Nursing-home lawsuit reform ready for House vote

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A proposal to increase restrictions on lawsuits over injuries incurred by nursing home residents passed House Judiciary Committee on Friday.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, who sponsored HB 569, put the finishing touches on the bill during negotiations with groups including the Florida Health Care Association, the Florida Justice Association and AARP, before it goes to the full House.

Part of the bill shields “passive” investors from lawsuits over resident care, which supporters say would help promote investments to the nursing-home industry.

The bill also requires evidentiary hearings before litigants can pursue punitive-damage claims against nursing homes.

HB 569 targets nursing homes that do not pay judgments, including those who hold off paying to prevent losing their licenses.

The bill also places constraints on nursing homes about releasing medical records to residents or their representatives. The Senate version (SB 670), also approved by two committees, is ready for a vote by the full Senate.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.