A new poll shows that Floridians overwhelmingly support COVID-19 liability protections for businesses.
The poll, released by the Florida Chamber on Thursday, shows that Florida voters are in favor of protections for businesses that followed public health protocols and guidelines, with 74 percent of the participants supporting legislation to shield businesses from frivolous lawsuits.
“Florida has the fifth-worst legal climate in America and now is the time to safeguard local businesses from billboard trial lawyers trying to leverage the global pandemic for their own profit,” said Mark Wilson, President & CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
One of Governor Ron DeSantis‘ top priorities, Republicans in the House and Senate have lined up to back the initiative. State House Representative Lawrence McClure is pushing the bill (HB 7) on the House side, while Senator Jeff Brandes is spearheading the measure (SB 72) in the Senate. The legislation, which has bipartisan support, is also being backed by House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Senate President Wilton Simpson.
The bills, which are receiving pushback from trial lawyers arguing that such legislation makes it difficult for people to seek damages from businesses that aren’t taking proper precautions during the pandemic, cleared its first hurdles this week after the Senate’s version passed its first committee on Monday.
The business advocacy group also backs both measures and believes that healthcare workers should also be immune from bad actors. Adding protections for those in healthcare have been explored over the last few weeks, with Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis advocating for extending the umbrella to frontline healthcare workers.
When extended to include doctors, hospitals, and nursing homes, support for liability protections increased to 78 percent, according to the poll.
“Voters have spoken and fully support COVID liability protections for Florida businesses who are doing right by their employees and customers,” said Nick Catroppo, Vice President of Political Operations at the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “We hope the Legislature listens to their constituents and passes this important legislation.”