Florida lawmakers move forward with bill to give property owners lawsuit protections

Lawmakers in Florida are moving forward with a bill that would protect property owners and, in the long run, insurance companies from civil lawsuits. After a three-hour meeting on Tuesday in Tallahassee, the Florida Senate Judiciary Committee gave the bill a thumbs-up by a vote of 8-4.

But families of crime victims from all over the state are against Senate Bill 236. They think that it would be harder to hold places like apartment complexes responsible when crimes happen there.

Miya Marca was killed by a maintenance worker at the Arden Villas apartment complex in Orlando about a year and a half ago. Her father, Marlon Marcano, spoke out against the bill to lawmakers about a month ago.

Marcano told lawmakers about the terrible crime by saying, “She was killed in her apartment, where she lived and worked for these people.” Marcano has spent a lot of the last year and a half fighting for changes. Marcano said, “I haven’t even had time to fully grieve.”

He is now asking lawmakers to either change the bill or not pass it. The bill would protect insurance companies from being sued because of the carelessness of properties where crimes happen. “At the end of the day, someone has to be held responsible for their mistakes,” said Marcano. “In this case, the apartment complex has to be held responsible, since the person who killed my daughter is no longer here because he killed himself.”

Similar to House Bill 837, the bill would make it harder for people to sue insurance companies for not handling and settling claims properly.

It would also get rid of the rule that insurance companies, like auto insurance companies, have to pay the attorney fees of people who win lawsuits.It would also make property companies pay damages in negligence cases if they were more than 51% to blame. Critics say this would be hard to show to a jury because the names of the criminals involved would be on the jury forms.

The bill would also change the rules about what kinds of medical proof can be used in cases of personal injury and wrongful death.An Orlando lawyer who supported the bill said that he has seen plaintiffs lie about how much their medical bills cost to get a bigger settlement in court. “At trial, the plaintiff only showed the half of the bills that they did not send to insurance. This showed that the number was inflated artificially.”

Frank Pierce, who works for the Florida Defense Lawyers Association, said, “We need to stop this manipulation and back this bill.” But several people whose loved ones were killed in brutal crimes told lawmakers that this would make it harder for them to hold companies accountable.

Marcano says he is fighting for what is right as he thinks about his daughter Miya. Marcano said, “At the end of the day, all I can do is carry on her legacy and try to protect people so that other families don’t have to go through what my family has.” Both versions of the bill are moving quickly through committees, and a full vote could happen within the next two weeks.