The Tampa Tribune reported on the new Florida tort reform measures that protect corporate owners and operators of nursing homes for neglect and abuse. It requires the victims to show "conclusive evidence" of abuse before proceeding with a claim for punitive damages, raising the legal requirement that traditionally exists. Under current law, parties seeking punitive damages must make a “reasonable showing” of the evidence supporting their claim before being allowed to proceed. The bill accelerates the process for parties seeking punitive damages by forcing them to provide “clear and convincing” evidence before being allowed to pursue a claim for punitive damages.
The bill would make it more difficult for families to get their full measure of justice when abuse occurs. Families also would face a higher standard before proceeding with a punitive claim. Under the bill being proposed, only nursing home owners found to have “actively and knowingly participated in intentional misconduct” would be liable for punitive damages. That would reward an owner’s ignorance of their own operations.
"Unlike compensatory damages, which calculate the loss and expense suffered by victims, punitive damages are meant to punish reprehensible conduct and to deter its reoccurrence."
"When the elderly are abused, and families seek compensatory damages from those responsible, the judgments can be limited by the victim’s incapacitation. Punitive damages are the clear and imminent threat that gets the attention of the nursing home operators and owners."