On March 29 Governor DeSantis signed CS/SB 72 – Civil Liability for Damages Relating to COVID-19 into law. The new bill provides crucial liability protection to individuals and businesses such as community associations, along with educational institutions, religious organizations, and health care providers for liability claims related to COVID-19.
The provisions in this new legislation protect Florida community associations from potential lawsuits related to COVID-19 exposure, provided they made a good faith effort to follow federal, state, and local public health guidelines.
“This new limited liability law was necessary and goes a long way towards shielding Florida’s thousands of community associations, and the more than 60 percent of Florida residents who live in an association, by raising the legal standard and protecting them from frivolous lawsuits,” said Alessandra Stivelman, partner at Eisinger Law.
According to the Community Association Institute, only 15 of 50 states in the country have passed similar limited liability laws to protect community associations.
A few highlights of the legislation include authorized limited cause of action for COVID-19 related claims with:
- a heightened culpability standard: to establish liability, the defendant must have acted with gross negligence or intentional conduct;
- a heightened evidentiary standard: clear and convincing evidence is required to establish liability, rather than a mere preponderance of the evidence; and
- a shortened statute of limitations.
As vaccinations roll out and restrictions begin to loosen, the pandemic is not over. Despite this progress it is still important for community associations to follow guidelines which safeguard the health, safety and welfare of residents along with protecting an association from possible liabilities.
Carolina Sznajderman Sheir is a partner at Eisinger Law and is an AV-rated attorney. Her practice focuses on real estate law, community association law, commercial litigation and developer representation. She can be reached at email@example.com or 954-894-8000 ext. 238.
Alessandra Stivelman is a partner at Eisinger Law, Board Certified Specialist in Condominium and Planned Development Law and is an AV-rated attorney. She focuses her practice on community association and real estate law and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-894-8000 ext. 304.
Eisinger Law is a full-service Florida law firm focusing on community association law, real estate law, developer representation, commercial litigation, corporate law, insurance law and estate planning. For more info visit eisingerlaw.com