31 January, 2024

Robin Khanal Testifies Before Senate Judiciary Committee On SB 238 - The ALF Claims Bill

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At Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A. (QPWB), our commitment to our clients extends far beyond the courtroom. Managing Partner of the Orlando Hub, Robin Khanal, exemplifies this dedication by actively participating in the legislative process to advocate for laws that benefit our clients, particularly Assisted Living Facilities (ALFs). By testifying in support of legal changes and working tirelessly on both legislative and judicial fronts, Robin ensures that our clients operate in a fair and just legal environment. This proactive approach not only aids in navigating current legal landscapes but also in shaping future laws to create a balanced playing field for our clients.

In line with these efforts, a significant bill is currently making its way through the Florida state capitol, which QPWB is closely monitoring and supporting. The bill, referenced as SB 238 and HB 995, aims to provide Assisted Living Facilities with procedural protections similar to those that nursing homes have benefited from for over a decade. This legislation is a priority for QPWB and is designed to ensure that claims and damages are accurately directed towards those directly at fault.

Key aspects of the bill include:

Focused Claims & Damages - The bill proposes that initial pleadings should be limited to specified classes of persons, similar to the structure in nursing home statutes. This means that entities defined as "passive investors" would not be liable, and additional defendants could only be added upon a reasonable showing of a breach of duty of care that caused damage. This approach contrasts with the current situation for ALFs, where a wide range of parties can be sued from the outset.

Election for Damages - Under the proposed bill, the process for electing damages (e.g., survival or wrongful death damages) would be clarified, requiring the election to be made after the verdict but before the judgment. This change aims to bring consistency and fairness to the process, aligning it with the procedures followed in nursing home cases.

Punitive Damages - The bill seeks to standardize the process for claiming punitive damages, requiring a court hearing to determine if there is sufficient admissible evidence for such claims. This would align the standards for direct and vicarious liability with those in place for nursing homes, ensuring a more equitable approach to punitive damages in ALF cases.

The need for such legislative changes is underscored by the challenges faced by FSLA members, including significant increases in insurance rates due to the current legal environment. For instance, one member reported a 200% increase in rates in 2019, highlighting the financial strain imposed by the so-called "tort tax" on residents and staff. The proposed bill aims to alleviate these pressures by creating a more sustainable and fair legal framework for ALFs.

At QPWB, we understand the importance of such legislative efforts in protecting and advancing the interests of our clients. Robin Khanal's active involvement in advocating for this bill is a testament to our firm's dedication to going the extra mile for our clients. By engaging in the legislative process and fighting for fair laws, we strive to ensure that our clients, particularly Assisted Living Facilities, can continue to provide quality care and services in a supportive legal environment.

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