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Florida house subcommittee advances Covid liability bill

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Florida lawmakers fast-tracked a bill on Wednesday that would shield businesses and other organizations from liability for Covid-19 related claims.

The legislation, known as Civil Liability for Damages Relating to Covid-19, would protect schools, non-profits and religious institutions that make a “good-faith effort” to follow government health guidelines.

It was approved by the House Civil Justice and Property Rights subcommittee along party lines, and is awaiting approval in the Florida State Senate ahead of the next legislative session, which begins March 2.

The American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) praised the committee for moving forward with a bill.

“Florida businesses that conform with pandemic safety guidance to protect their employees and customers should be able to operate without the fear of a Covid-related lawsuit” said APCIA lobbyist Logan McFaddin.

“A mountain of litigation against small businesses trying to operate safely would only slow Florida’s economic recovery,” she continued.

“APCIA looks forward to working with the House and Senate on the swift passage of House Bill 7 during the upcoming legislative session,” McFaddin added.

There have been fears that the pandemic could lead to future litigation, but many states have passed legislation to limit liability for coronavirus outbreaks, including Iowa, Michigan and Georgia, which passed the Georgia Covid-19 Pandemic Business Safety Act.

Florida is a notoriously litigious jurisdiction, where property insurers in particular have been battling contractors over assignment of benefits fraud.

Sister publication Trading Risk today reported that the number of new lawsuits against Florida’s leading property carriers surged 17% in December.

Data from insurance litigation technology firm CaseGlide shows that claimants launched over 5,000 new legal challenges last month against Florida’s 17 biggest property insurers, an increase of 61% compared with the same month last year.

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