Friday, November 21st, 2014

Scott-O-Meter

Provide legal protection for first-responders


State will "offer basic protection from unnecessary litigation to business owners who offer their services to first-responders in the aftermath of a disaster."

Updates

Good Samaritan law heading to governor's desk

The Good Samaritan bill Florida Gov. Rick Scott wanted passed the Legislature and is headed to his desk to sign.

The "Postdisaster Relief Assistance Act," SB 450, provides that any person who offers temporary housing, food, water or electricity to an emergency first-responder or immediate family members of an emergency first-responder may not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of providing the temporary housing, food, water or electricity, according to a staff analysis.

The Senate passed the measure 38-0 on May 3, 2011, and the House followed suit 118-0 on May 4.

The liability waiver -- which is broader than Scott envisioned in that it expands beyond business owners -- comes with a few caveats.

It would not apply to a person who acts in a manner that demonstrates reckless disregard for the consequences of another. It would last only for six months after the declaration of an emergency by the governor, and it would not apply if the act or aid is unrelated to the original declared emergency.

Still, this is a Promise Kept.

Sources:

SB 450, accessed May 8, 2011

Good Samaritan bills moving through committees

Part of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's plan to implement tort reform is to offer business owners lawsuit protection when aiding first-responders in the aftermath of a disaster.

Scott pledged during the campaign to "offer basic protection from unnecessary litigation to business owners who offer their services to first-responders in the aftermath of a disaster.

"Businesses who form public-private partnerships to respond to emergency management needs should be applauded and supported with appropriate legal protections they need to continue serving our communities," Scott wrote on his campaign website. (The passage has since been removed as part of Scott's changes to the site, though we saved a version that you can see here. The first-responder discussion begins on Page 11.)

We're not sure of the genesis of the promise, or why Scott felt the legal protections were needed since it's been so rarely discussed. That said, a bill that would do what Scott pledged -- and more -- is moving through both houses of the Florida Legislature.

HB 215 and SB 450 create the "Postdisaster Relief Assistance Act," a type of bill that is commonly classified as a Good Samaritan law because its intent is to hold people harmless for trying to do a good thing.

The bill provides that any person who offers temporary housing, food, water or electricity to an emergency first-responder or immediate family members of an emergency first-responder may not be held liable for any civil damages as a result of providing the temporary housing, food, water or electricity, according to a staff analysis.

The liability waiver -- which is broader than Scott envisioned in that it expands beyond business owners -- comes with a few caveats.

It would not apply to person who acts in a manner that demonstrates reckless disregard for the consequences of another. It would last only for six months after the declaration of an emergency by the governor, and it would not apply if the act or aid is unrelated to the original declared emergency.

The legislation already has been heard in a Senate committee, and is awaiting subsequent hearings in both chambers.

We'll be watching this legislation as it moves through the process. For now, we can rate Scott's promise In the Works.

Sources:

HB 215, accessed March 15, 2011

SB 450, accessed March 15, 2011

HB 215 staff analysis, accessed March 15, 2011

Gov. Rick Scott, campaign platform and positions, accessed and saved on March 15, 2011