Florida's "Judicial Hell-Hole" Committee for Med-Mal & Tort Reform
Florida Medical Rights Association Board Chairman, Melody Page attended the Florida Civil Justice Sub-Committee meeting on tort reform and med-mal reform on February 20, 2019. When she walked into meeting room 404 of the Capitol House Building the big screen in the front of the room had the words projected on it:
"Why Florida has gained a reputation
as a judicial hell hole"
How ironic, considering both Florida's Free Kill law and the makeup of the committee's panel. "It was like a blatant admission of guilt front and center." Says Melody. While she had the opportunity to speak during the public comments section, she noted that 100% of the panel invited to address legislators was made up of corporations representing the interests of insurance companies, it's insureds and big corporations. The panel completely lacked public representation. Traditionally, Judicial Hellholes have been known as states where judges systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner, generally against defendants in civil lawsuits.*
"Medical malpractice directly affects the people of Florida." says Melody, "Shouldn't someone representing the people have been invited to make sure that the people's interests are held to the highest standard? Legislators are voted in to protect us, not just to protect the pockets of big corporate. There has to be a balance that maintains safety and value of human life. Florida's Free Kill law is way out of that balance."
Florida Free Kill law is a term that we use to describe the Wrongful Death Statute 768.21, section 8. It has been dubbed "free kill" because medical facilities are literally free to kill patients who are unmarried and do not have children under age 25. This law arbitrarily and with great prejudice devalues the lives of millions of Floridians.
In an era where human beings are striving for equality, and to be treated with respect regardless of race, color, gender, preference or age, and in a country where citizens are crying out against corruption, for doctors to be allowed to commit medical errors that kill without any repercussion for only this group of people, in only this state is absolutely absurd.
"This law is a fine example of agism and prejudice against the family unit itself." Says Melody about the Statute. "It was clearly put in place to with the intent to for insurance companies to save money, but at the cost of devaluing human life, I can not believe that it's being allowed to continue and not a single legislator has made a move to change it all these years. Are they afraid of how this will affect their paychecks from big corporate or what?" While FMRA has gained some support for change, securing a commitment for change has not yet occurred. What Senate or House member will step up and be a champion for the people?
Florida's laws put married individuals at a higher value than unmarried. If a married individual is killed by medical negligence, their spouse can file suit, bring the errors to light and be heard. If however a patient is unmarried (and has no minor children), their life is considered to be worth less. As citizens of the State of Florida it is our civic duty to get this harmful law repealed.
Florida Medical Rights Association is frustrated. We have been chasing legislators for two years now asking, even begging for change. The first year we were told that they had to wait until Rick Scott was out of office, because he would veto it. The second year we were told that there wasn't enough time, due to elections. Elections ended in November, but the public hearing legislative sessions were not open until days of the deadline. Palm Beach County's legislative session was one day after the deadline to file for a Bill. The system seems to be designed to keep the people out of it. Now we are told that it is too late for this year, maybe legislators will have time to talk in May.
When will the political climate be right to save the lives of Floridians?
In the meantime, thousands of lives are unaccounted for and Floridians are dying at the hands of medical error with no fear of reprimand.
For a list of legislators in your area to contact and
voice how you feel about Florida's Free Kill Law
* Information from https://www.judicialhellholes.org/about/