In Jacksonville, a woman tries desperately to get justice for her mother’s sexual assault at a nursing home. Sandra Banning went before the Senate Judiciary Committee this month to try and improve the way nursing home cases were conducted in the state of Florida. The Senate is attempting to pass more tort reform that protects nursing homes from accountability and responsibility. It raises the threshold for those suing nursing homes to seek damages for excessive misconduct, or “punitive damages.” The bill (SB 1384) would require that before a person seeks punitive damages, a judge must first grant permission and require a detailed hearing to vet evidence used. In other words, the victim has to disclose his strategy and trial tactics in a mini-trial to convince the judge, and then have another trial in front of the jury. What a waste of judicial time and money.
Banning told the tragic story of how her mother was raped in a nursing home when a man used his wheelchair to block the door. Sandra Banning was awarded a $750,000 judgment but it was never paid by the nursing home corporation. Florida has a state trust fund where 50% of punitive damages are required to go into this fund to assist with reform. However, since that bill was enacted in 2001, there have been zero successful punitive damages claims brought against nursing homes. The bill has two more stops before the Senate can completely come to a decision on it. See article at the Florida Times-Union.