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Consumers face uphill battle on COVID immunity

Local law enforcement and businesses are preparing ahead of potential protests this weekend
Local law enforcement and businesses are preparing ahead of potential protests this weekend(WCTV)
Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 5:16 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - Florida consumer groups are protesting legislative efforts to give businesses immunity from COVID-lawsuits.

The legislation is on a fast track, but is facing partisan opposition.

Just a handful of COVID-related lawsuits against businesses have been filed so far, but hundreds are being cued up.

“There is an overwhelming concern by consumers,” said Susan McGrath with the Florida Consumer Action Network.

Legislation to protect businesses is on the fast track in the Capitol.

Unions and others have so far been unable to stop it.

“There will be no accountability for them if their employees or if their consumers get sick,” said Dr. Rich Templin with the Florida AFL-CIO.

Michael Levine, an attorney representing the family of a Publix deli worker who died last April, said the grocer wasn’t thinking about its workers.

“Publix made that decision to prohibit masks because they were worried that the masks would scare off customers,” said Levine.

But Senate Sponsor Jeff Brandes said as long as businesses followed changing guidelines, they shouldn’t face lawsuits.

“So we’ve seen the standards evolve. I think that’s the key,” said Brandes. “Were business actively participating keeping up with the standards? Were they looking at the CDC guidance when it came out?

So far, just one Republican has voted against the immunity provisions.

Not one Democrat has voted yes.

“There are 22 million Floridians that are suffering,” said House Democratic co-leader Rep. Evan Jenne.

Jenne believes GOP lawmakers are looking out for the wrong Floridians.

“I think we need to pass policy that is going to be best for those 22 million,” said Jenne.

And If the immunity legislation passes as is, workers could have little recourse.

COVID is not covered under workers comp.

The House and Senate are expected to take up the immunity legislation on the chamber floor during the first week of this spring’s session, which starts March 2.

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