Florida Senate Postpones Bill to Repeal Free Kill
After the companion bill (6011) passed its first committee in the Florida House, the Senate Bill 262 was added to the agenda to be heard on January 31st in the Senate Judiciary Committee. This was the first time ever, since the inception of the law, that the Senate actually agreed to hear the voice of the people on the topic of the Wrongful Death Act. It was inspiring for many people, as some, like Jerry Purpura, who lost his daughter over 10 years ago, would have had the chance to be heard in an official manner for the first time. These bills together, if they had passed, would have repealed half of Florida's Wrongful Death Act, the part pertaining to the loss of an adult child.
14 Advocates who had been personally affected by this law had either arrived or were en route to Tallahassee on Sunday, January 30th when the Florida Senate reached out to tell FMRA members that the Senate Bill 262 would be postponed. Later Florida Politics announced that the reason was because the bill was not ready to be heard according to Senator Burgess.
Prior to the postponing of the bill several amendments had been attached to it that would have limited the repeal of the Free Kill law with such extreme measures that it wouldn't have made a difference at all. As much as the people cry out for equal protection under the law for their loved ones and equal rights to seek justice, the Senate continues to respond in a manner that addresses the Wrongful Death act from the standpoint of money. This is very clear from the amendments that were filed.
Politicians are being educated on the financial concerns by corporations representing their own interests, like Douglas Murphy of the FMA, a medical malpractice company that could stand to lose out if Florida were to allow all all citizens equal opportunity to be heard in a court of law, regardless of their marital status, in cases where gross negligence causes death. In fact he was quoted in Florida Politics as saying that this bill would do "nothing to improve physicians' accountability in the state." It may be a money issue for the medical malpractice and hospital industries, but it is an equal protection under the law issue for the people who are affected. Murphy went on to say that the Medical Board is responsible for holding doctors accountable. Again, this is an equality and right to life issue. Victims who were married and/or have minor children are granted access to the courts by way of their loved ones, while the unmarried with no minor children have only the medical board as an option. And if the medical board does not take the time to review a patient's file, then the family does not get the closure they deserve and those responsible are not held accountable. I would think that it would be in the best interests of malpractice insurance companies to hold repeat offenders accountable in a way that would drive change, improve outcomes and reduce errors.
The unmarried with no minor children do not have equal protection under the law. This is a United States constitutional right and it has been taken away from Floridians. It seems that lawmakers, corporations and the people are all on a different page. More than 10 corporations who could potentially be affected by rising costs should a repeal occur have paid lobbyists to educate legislators. AARP and the Florida Justice Association are the only lobbying firms who have stepped up to support the unmarried, elderly, and the disabled who fall in the free kill category, so far.
The Florida Medical Rights Association maintains low expectations on a bill to further the cause of equal protection and repeal the wrongful death act being heard this year. House Bill 6039 and Senate Bill 560 which would have repealed the law for adult children who lost a parent were never even on a single agenda.
We will continue to raise awareness, document the victims, and remain hopeful that as the landscape of our country changes to one that focuses on equal rights for all people, that Florida will begin to acknowledge the need to change Florida's Wrongful Death Act. The notion that some lives matter more than others is everything that is wrong with this law.