House Representative Slosberg and (CO-SPONSORS) Bush; Cortes, J.; Driskell; Eskamani; Jenne; Killebrew; and Mercado submitted House Bill 6051
(https://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=68915) earlier this year, to repeal Florida's Wrongful Death Act (aka Free Kill law). It died in Bob Rommel's Civil Justice Subcommittee on March 14th, 2020 as COVID came down upon the United States. Rommel's comment on the docket states "Indefinitely postponed and withdrawn from consideration"
House Representative Bob Rommel (Lee County, Florida) believes that families of unmarried individuals who have no minor children should not be able to sue in the case of wrongful death. He claims that he believes if the victim's families were able to sue, it would cause illegitimate lawsuits to arise and that families would seek to get rich on the tragic loss of their loved ones. In truth, nobody is asking for money, families are only asking for the right to be heard in a court of law. It is the court's job to decide if the death was wrongful. It is an American and constitutional right to access the courts. Victim's families want the ability to file a lawsuit for two key reasons: 1. This Florida law is discriminatory and expresses that the value of a human life of an unmarried person without minor children is worth less than other lives. The families of victims value and honor their lost loved ones. 2. A lawsuit is the only way to hold the medical practitioner whose error caused the wrongful death accountable.
Is he for the people? See Bob Rommel's voting report card
Our country is in a long overdue state of uproar over issues of racism. Florida's Free Kill law is the ultimate discrimination of all races. It affects persons of all colors, religions and genetic backgrounds. The law states that if you are unmarried and have no minor children, and are killed by medical error, nobody will be held accountable. Basically, your life is worthless. Our country fights for equality in Black Lives Matter, while Florida law silently authorizes murder by medical malpractice of people of all colors. I long for the day when Florida Medical Rights Association has enough voices joined together to make change happen. Understandably, many victims families remain silent during their grief. Many others have not yet found groups like ours to team up with. I know first hand, speaking out is hard when your heart has just been shattered in a million pieces.
Often, I hear from victims families that they have brought their loved ones medical records to the Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the Agency for Healthcare Administration (AHCA). Unfortunately I have not seen a single case get resolved. This is because the power of both agencies is limited. In Florida, hospitals are allowed to self regulate. When a complaint is filed with DOH or AHCA, an investigation is opened. When the responding agency contacts the hospital, the hospital provides the records they deem necessary to complete the investigation. Neither the DOH nor AHCA have authority to request additional records. Anything the hospital holds back is simply not able to be countered.
It is an unfortunate side effect of our legal system that money is a factor in being able to file a lawsuit. There are costs involved to do so. Florida's Wrongful Death Act allows the family only to file for the cost of tangible damages. When someone dies a wrongful death, the only tangible damage is the cost of a funeral. The cost to bring a medical malpractice suit to court and the cost of attorneys fees are far greater than the cost of a funeral. Therefore it is impossible to bring a case of wrongful death of a free kill victim to court, unless a family is able and willing to accept a guarantee of losing 50K or more.
Who benefits from Florida's Wrongful Death Act?
Hospitals, Medical Malpractice Companies, Big Pharma. Every time a bill appears to repeal Florida's Free Kill law, the Medical Malpractice hired guns (lobbyists) show up to defend keeping this law in place, threatening higher malpractice insurance costs and stating that our already shorted number of doctors will be forced to leave Florida because they won't be able to afford it. These repetitive talking points have already been disproven. It is a fact that Florida has no shortage of doctors. These hired guns know exactly when to appear and are called upon to testify by Rep Rommel, and coincidentally immediately following a supporter of the repeal. Public records are easy to access. Here is one example: Watch the video here: https://thefloridachannel.org/videos/3-13-19-house-civil-justice-subcommittee/ The Wrongful Death amendment discussion begins at 2:04:10
What can we do to change Florida's
Wrongful Death Act?
A team of people to make phone calls and ask every Senator and House rep for a 2021 Bill in the Florida Senate + A Bill in the Florida House + Enough votes from the Senate Civil Justice Committee + House Civil Justice Committee + Senate Judiciary Committee + House Judiciary Committee.
Support both Democrat and Republican House Reps and Senators who support Florida's Free Kill. This is a bipartisan issue and will only stand a chance at passing with bipartisan support. For a list of legislators who support passing a repeal of Florida's Free Kill law, or a list of legislators you can call to ask for support: contact us.
The first stop of a bill to repeal Florida's Free Kill is the House Civil Justice Committee. Bob Rommel is the Chairman and has discretion to turn down the bill with a quick voice vote, where the loudest legislator wins, or even refuse to hear alltogether. In the past four years, I have seen this bill be denied three times by Rommel. I would love to see him voted out, but I do not have high hopes for this in the near future. Lee County has a strong Republican voter base, and no other Republicans have run against him for at least the past two terms. I do guarantee however that the thousands of families that fight for the justice of their loved ones will outlast his reign. The tragedies that go on every day in Florida will continue after he is no longer in office, and hopefully his successor in the committee will be concerned with the health and welfare of all humans equally, and as the people of our country continue to fight for the equality of all human beings, the class of Florida free kill victims will not be forgotten. I will certainly never forget (love you dad). Miracles never cease to happen.