Florida Representative Watson (Miami-Dade County) and Florida Senator Gibson (Duval County) have submitted HB 259. A Bill worthy of attention from our community of advocates working towards improved medical rights and accountability in the Sunshine State. In full support of this Bill, there are some important points to note in relation to Florida's Wrongful Death Act. If "Florida's Free Kill" Law is not also addressed, the implication is that the Elder Abuse Fatality teams will have limited contribution to hold certain perpetrators of elder wrongful death accountable, specifically those who cause wrongful death by medical error. Yet it is a giant step in the right direction.
We ask that all of our advocacy readers support this worth while House Bill. Please contact your local Legislative Representatives and request that they support Watson and Gibson in the passing of this Bill for the safety and security of our seniors, of which we will all become one day.
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This is an open letter to Representative Watson and Senator Gibson:
Dear Representative Watson & Senator Gibson:
Your recently proposed House Bill 259, Section 115.1103 (2) - (3) calls for an enactment of Elder Abuse Fatality teams when abuse is suspected as a possible cause or contribution to the death of a senior resident of the state. Many other states have enacted such protections to protect the elderly with incredible success. We support your endeavor.
In the State of Florida however a creation of such a task force to examine elder abuse fatalities will be of little help as long as Florida Statute 768.21 (8) stands. Dubbed the Florida Free Kill Law, a full legal review of this harmful statute is explained in full detail in the University of Baltimore Law Review article titled Florida's Free Kill Examined by Hayley Hassan, law student and elected Board of Directors VP for pending Florida 501c4 - Florida Medical Rights Association.
If HB 259 passes, when medical error has caused the wrongful death there will be no punishment if the elder victim is unmarried or widowed according to Florida Statute 768.21 (8). The statute clearly states that adult children (nor anyone besides the spouse of an adult or minor child) may not file a grievance in a court of law.
(8) The damages specified in subsection (3) shall not be recoverable by adult children and the damages specified in subsection (4) shall not be recoverable by parents of an adult child with respect to claims for medical negligence as defined by s. 766.106(1).
Therefore if the wrongful death victim is unmarried and their children are adults, nobody may take the case to court. While HB 259 is a step in the right direction, what is the point of proving elder abuse if the perpetrators can not be held accountable when the cause of death is medical negligence? The goals listed in the subsequent document House of Representatives Staff Analysis "To improve the systems that caused, contributed to, or failed to prevent the death, and thereby ensure that services are provided to elder abuse victims to help to prevent similar deaths in the future" will never take place without addressing Florida's Free Kill law.
We stand with Gibson & Watson - Thank you for your contribution.
We wish for your continued success in standing for the rights of Floridians.
Melody Page & Debbie Sowden
Co-Presidents & Founders of The Florida Medical Rights Association (Formerly Two Daughters).