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Florida Free Kill HB 651 Update

On March 4th, 2021, in Florida's Civil Justice and Property Rights Committee, House Representative Spencer Roach read the House Bill (HB 651) he submitted that could end 1/2 of Florida's Free Kill Law. The Bill repeals the section of §768.21(8) that pertains only to the parent's loss of adult children, but not for the rights of the surviving child who has lost a parent. Several members of the Florida Medical Rights Association community testified about the loss of their beloved children at the hands of medical error and the fact that they were unable to hold the medical practitioners responsible accountable. Medical malpractice lobbyists, including a representative from Doctor's Insurance Company, testified as well. Opposition points included that parents should not receive funds for pain and suffering when having lost a child. Florida's Free Kill victim's families, however, are not often looking for money from a lawsuit, rather they are seeking to hold the person responsible accountable. Since the law only allows for a filing to pay for funeral expenses, there is not enough gain in it for the claim to go through a court of law. Legal and filing fees alone are far over the cost of a funeral.

The Civil Justice Subcommittee unanimously passed the Bill, however, there are a few more steps to go before a repeal may occur. On top of this there is a correlating Bill in the Senate, SB 1112. Both HB 651 and SB 1112 must pass in order for the partial repeal of the free kill law to take place.

The next stop for HB 651

HB 651 will make its next stop in the Florida House Judiciary Committee (Date TBD) sometime over the next few weeks. Once there, the Bill will face even more rigorous opposition. The present state of malpractice insurance for physicians is not only abnormally high already, but is also the main excuse that is used to keep free kill in place. By comparison, medmal insurance in Florida costs an average of 10x's than for doctors in other states. The total cost of insurance for the state's population is spread across all insurance carriers. At this time more than half of Florida's physicians do not carry medical malpractice insurance, subsequently, the cost has risen dramatically for those that do. The medical malpractice insurance companies have been asked to show data in the next committee meeting that proves that there would need to be an increase if Florida's Free Kill law is even partially repealed. The truth is, that if all doctors in the state had equal requirements, then all human life would also be equally valued without an increase being on the table at all.

What can I do?

Most often, legislators are not aware of Florida's Free Kill law before hearing about it during legislative session. This applies most especially when they are new, as is the case for more than half of Florida's 2021-2022 Judiciary Committee. Since they are now officially in an office of public service, the people whom this law affect should have a voice in the educating of committee members. Florida Medical Rights Association recommends using your voice to be a part of the education process. Each member of the Judiciary Committee can be found below, along with their telephone numbers. Email is helpful too, though you are more likely to get your point across if you can acquire a short one-on-one telephone meeting.

Most often legislators will grant those desired with about 15 minutes of talk time, so if you do secure a meeting, do your best to share your point and your story as quickly as possible. It couldn't hurt to ask them to support a full repealof §768.21, subsection 8, though it is not likely to happen this term.

Suggested script:

I lost my loved one and due to Florida's Free Kill law, the medical practitioner will not be held accountable. That same medical practitioner is also not required to have any training to prevent this from happening to someone else. Please support the passing of HB 651 and consider amending to include striking all of subsection 8, so that all Florida's lives are considered of equal value.

Florida's House Judiciary Committee 2021

House Representatives:

Daniel Perez (850) 717-5116

Byrd Cord (850) 717-5011

Tommy Gregory (850) 717-5073

Fentrice Driskell (850) 717-5063

Ramon Alexander (850) 717-5008

Chuck Brannen (850) 717-5010

Demi Cabrera (850) 717-5114

Ben Diamond (850) 717-5068

Wyman Duggan (850) 717-5015

Juan Fernandez-Barquin (850) 717-5119

Elizabeth Fetterhoff (850) 717-5026

Mike Gottleib (850) 717-5098

Erin Grall (850) 717-5054

Michael Grieco (850) 717-5113

Dianne Hart (850) 717-5061

Andrew Learned (850) 717-5059

Scott Plakon (850) 717-5029

Michelle Salzman (850) 717-5001

John Snyder (850) 717-5082

Keith Truenow (850) 717-5031

... and finally please thank the sponsor of HB 651 and ask him to consider striking all of subsection 8, to also protect our parents, Spencer Roach (850) 717-5079

Florida Medical Rights Association continues to grow our community of unfortunate families of victims.

Alone we are but one. Together our voices shall be heard. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Meade

Visit our website to join our twice monthly meetings, learn more, and participate in activities to raise awareness that will ultimately create an equal value on all Florida lives.


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