Florida Judge Rules Governor Did Not Have Authority to Ban School Mask Mandates

Just before the start of the 2021 school year, with COVID-19 rates in Florida rapidly rising, several Florida school boards implemented mask mandates in their school districts. In response, on July 30, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued Executive Order 21-175, which banned mask mandates in schools, declaring that it should be parents—not the government—who decide whether their children are required to wear masks in school.

On August 6, 2021, a group of parents claiming that their children were adversely affected by the governor’s blanket ban on mask mandates in Florida schools filed a lawsuit against the governor, challenging the constitutionality of the ban. On August 27, 2021, following a four-day virtual trial, Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper ruled from the bench that the ban was unlawful, reasoning that DeSantis overreached his authority, misinterpreted state law and disregarded the nation’s best scientific and medical opinions.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Florida Adopts New COVID-19 Civil Liability Limitations

On March 29, 2021, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law Chapter 2021-1, designed to deter certain COVID-19-related lawsuits against a wide range of individuals, businesses, healthcare providers, and governmental and religious organizations. The legislation, which will be codified as sections 768.38 and 768.381 of the Florida Statutes, implements several new requirements applicable to a plaintiff bringing a “COVID-19-related claim.” This covers “a civil liability claim… which arises from or is related to COVID-19” or, in the case of a claim against a healthcare provider, “a civil liability claim” arising from, among other things, transmission of COVID-19; a diagnosis or treatment of, or failure to diagnose or treat, a person for COVID-19; the provision of a novel or experimental COVID-19 treatment; or delay or cancellation of a surgery or procedure due to a government-issued COVID-19-related health directive or guidance.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Florida Legislators Introduce Bills That Would Impose Strict Prerequisites to Bringing COVID-19 Personal Injury Claims

On January 6, 2021, Florida legislators introduced a pair of bills—H.B. 7 in the Florida House and S.B. 72 in the Florida Senate—intended to address civil liability for damages for personal injuries relating to COVID-19. (In a previous Alert, we discussed the Associated Industries of Florida’s recommendation for the state to address legal liability.) As described below, the bills would impose strict pleading, filing and proof requirements on plaintiffs pursuing COVID-19-related actions; shield from liability defendants who attempted to comply with applicable health standards and guidelines; and establish a framework for courts to quickly dispose of spurious claims.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Florida Industry Group Urges State to Limit Legal Liability for Florida Businesses

On November 30, 2020, the Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) released a 74-page report compiled by its Restore Economic Strength through Employment & Tourism (RESET) Task Force, highlighting a number policy proposals intended to help Florida’s economy “rebound from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and any similar future economic slowdowns.”

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

As COVID-19 Cases Mount, South Florida Counties Reimpose Restrictions Before Holiday Weekend

In recent weeks, the number of daily reported cases of COVID-19 in Florida has spiked, as it has in many other states. To slow the spread of the virus, counties throughout the Sunshine State and South Florida in particular are reimposing restrictions on, among other things, access to public facilities such as beaches.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Nursing Homes in Florida Ask Governor for Liability Immunity Protection From COVID-19 Lawsuits

In an April 3, 2020 letter, Florida’s largest advocacy group for long-term care providers, Florida Health Care Association, asked Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to extend sovereign immunity to heath care providers and health care facilities engaged in and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.  The letter requests liability immunity (both criminal and civil) for any harm or damages alleged to have been sustained as a result of an act or omission in the course of arranging for or providing health care services in accordance with COVID-19’s emergency rule and state directives.  Additionally, the letter requests immunity for the health care facility or health care professional if they are arranging for, or providing health care services, in good faith.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorney Brittany Wakim, please visit the Duane Morris Products Liability Blog.

Update to Various State Construction Closure Orders Related to COVID-19

This list is current as of April 14, 2020 (4:00 p.m. EST) and is and Update to an earlier Alert we posted on April 3rd. Please note that these closure orders are changing almost daily so please make sure you are checking the applicable state in question when considering a closure question.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris partner Brad Molotsky, please visit the Duane Morris Project Development/Infrastructure/P3 Blog.

Florida Governor Clarifies Terms of First Statewide Safer-at-Home Order

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ first statewide order restricting travel outside the home went into effect April 3, 2020, with a number of provisions still subject to reasonable debate as to their effect. To clarify the impact of Executive Order No. 20-91, the Office of the Governor released a set of FAQs.

To read the full text of this Alert, which describes a number of the key takeaways from the clarifying document, please visit the firm website.

Cannabis Industry and State Regulators Forced by COVID-19 to Evaluate and Improve Methods of Cannabis Delivery and Access

Cannabis operators, like all other businesses, are searching for new ways to reach their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cannabis businesses have been generally treated as “essential” under the various state orders that have otherwise closed businesses and ordered people to stay at home. Even though they have been permitted to operate, it is not business-as-usual for these operators as they grapple with CDC workplace restrictions and guidelines for reducing the spread of COVID-19.

As a result of these restrictions, state regulators and cannabis business have begun implementing new policies and procedures such as curbside pick-up, expanded delivery zones and increased use of contactless payment methods. While these changes are viewed as temporary, if properly implemented, cannabis businesses may be able to show regulators that these expanded policies should continue after the crisis has passed. This difficult time presents an opportunity for cannabis retailers to expand their reach and help bolster support for more online ordering, home delivery and other delivery methods.

To read the full text of this post by Duane Morris attorneys Justin A. SantarosaArletta BussiereJoe Pangaro and Justin Stern, which contains a summary of how several states have handled the COVID-19 pandemic in relation to the operations of cannabis businesses during the stay-at-home orders, please visit the Duane Morris Cannabis Industry Blog.