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Supreme Court, State Lawmakers to consider repealing law that limits who can file medical malpractice lawsuits

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Posted at 11:51 PM, Dec 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-18 23:53:24-05

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — Attorneys and families statewide call it discriminatory and unconstitutional.

Now, efforts are growing to repeal Florida Statute 768.21(8) which restricts who is able to file medical malpractice lawsuits.

HB 6501 was filed this month in the Florida House of Representatives to try to change the law.

Additionally, an appellate court is asking the Florida Supreme Court to review whether the law is constitutional.

“Every day that this law is in effect, there are people’s lives at stake,” said Stacy Waner.

Stacy’s brother, Trevor Snyder, died in a hospital on the panhandle in January.

He was admitted with a broken leg. Waner believed his death was a result of medical malpractice. She intended to file a lawsuit.

After contacting attorneys, she learned none would take the case because of who Trevor was.

He was not married. He had no children. He was over the age of 25. As a result, no one can sue on behalf of Snyder.

“It’s discriminatory. It’s hurting people. Literally, every single person in Florida is affected by this law. There’s not one person that doesn’t have someone in their family or someone they care about that doesn’t fit the criteria: Over 25, unmarried and no children,” Waner said.

After learning she could not sue on behalf of her brother, Waner started researching the law and working to repeal it.

Attorney Cassidy Loutos has been supporting Waner’s efforts to change the law, saying it was written to protect medical institutions and physicians from ‘frivolous’ lawsuits.

“I can’t stress enough, there are so many protections in place to prevent frivolous lawsuits. There’s absolutely no crisis. The health insurance premiums are not going to go up,” Loutos said.

The law has been on the books for decades.

“I believe it’s been around this long because of medical lobbyists and their influence on politicians," Loutos said.

But this month, HB 6501 was filed aiming to repeal the statute limiting medical malpractice suits. The bill would delete the provisions in the law which prohibit certain damages in wrongful death cases to be recoverable by adult children and the parents of adult children.

Also this year, an appellate court heard the case of another family fighting the law. The appellate court stated that the law seemed unconstitutional and discriminatory, and is sending it to the Supreme Court for review.

The Florida Medical Rights Association supports HB 6501 and is actively planning to rally in Tallahassee in support of repealing the law. Families and attorneys statewide also plan to join the rallies during the upcoming session beginning January 14.

The FMRA is asking people affected by the law to show their support for repealing it by filling out a following letter of support.