January is turning out to be an epic month for Florida Medical Rights Association. We are working hard to bring awareness of Florida's Wrongful Death Act to legislators, press and the public. Following a meeting with our President, Debbie Sowden, we received a request for information from Representative Smith on Florida's legislative healthcare committee for their upcoming meeting. Additionally, Melody Page, Chairman and Glenn Compton, Secretary; have been accepted to speak at the following events:
Broward County Legislative Session
Palm Beach County Legislative Session
Sarasota County Legislative Session
We will be presenting the following information:
Florida Free Kill law allows medical providers to take a Kevorkian-like position, only worse because it is without patient permission, with no fear of retribution.
When a victim prevails in a wrongful death suit, the healthcare provider must pay back Medicaid, Medicare and health insurance companies. In Florida, if the victim falls into the “Free Kill” category of a wrongful death case, the hospital does not have to pay back said organizations and the victims are left without recourse.
The Florida Supreme Court incorrectly ruled in Mizrahi vs. N. Miami Medical Center (Fla. 2000), that turning over this law would cause an increase in health care costs and, thus, failed to find the law unconstitutional under its rational basis analysis. This was not a valid argument at the time and the Florida Supreme Court in subsequent decisions recognized that when it found other similar laws that denied victims equal protection under the law unconstitutional.
The Florida Supreme Court in the Estate of McCall v. Unites States of America (Fla. 2014) and North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan (Fla. 2017) recognized that medical insurance rates never decreased and actually increased while denying victims equal protection under the law and violating the Florida Constitution.
The Court in McCall noted, “There is no indication that the past medical malpractice crisis continues into the present. If the medical malpractice crisis does not continue into the present, I fail to see how a past crisis can justify the permanent exclusion of an entire class of victims from seeking compensation for pain and suffering damages due to the wrongful death of their parents as a result of medical malpractice.”
Florida Statute § 768.21(8) is clearly unconstitutional as it denies a certain class of individuals equal protection under the law and deprives these classes of individuals from their right to access the courts for redress as enumerated by the Florida Constitution.
A person affected by medical error who is still living may file; however, if they die before the lawsuit is finalized and they do not have a spouse or minor child, they forfeit the case.
The Florida Free Kill Law arbitrarily without reason punishes the most grievously injured and their surviving family members.
Persons age 18 and above, without a spouse and without a minor child:
2.3 million college students (approximate)
6.8 million widowed seniors (approximate)
LGBT (childless and age 18 or above)
Divorced and widowed adults whose children are no longer minors
Any adult individual without a child
We estimate approximately 15 million Florida residents are at risk, according to the United States Census Bureau (2013).
We highly encourage fellow advocates to contact your local House Representatives and Senators. We have prepared a document for printing and sharing. It can be downloaded here.