DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — State leaders are considering new legislation, as many business owners are now worried about liability lawsuits as a result of opening their doors during the pandemic.
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At Steve’s Famous Diner in Daytona Beach, owner Christos Mavronas claims they are trying to get back on their feet.
“2020 we are down 30 to 40 percent of sales,” he said.
While is he taking many precautions against COVID-19, he is still worried that by opening his doors he is also opening himself up to potential lawsuits.
“There was a couple that say that they got sick but they were other places, so how do we know you got sick here?” Mavronas said.
If someone decides to sue, even without proof, Mavronas believes he’ll probably go out of business.
“We just want something to protect us, to protect that from happening,” he said.
That's why the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce is supporting legislation to discourage frivolous lawsuits.
“So we’ve had discussions with Gov. DeSantis, obviously we are behind his push to have this kind of legislation to protect businesses, also CFO Jimmy Patronis is very much behind and in favor of these liability protections," said Robert Lloyd, Chairman of the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce. "You know we have to restart our economy, we have to give our businesses a chance.”
Lloyd said several chamber businesses are already facing lawsuits
“Even if they are exonerated and found not liable for COVID-19 related illnesses, they still have to pay potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in defense costs in order to secure their business," said Lloyd.
Attorney Jason Harr believes while new legislation could make it harder to sue and require firm proof, it would be tough for the state to prevent these lawsuits all together.
“I simply don’t think that you can pass a law that would say, well if you’ve contracted COVID-19 you are not allowed to sue, I don’t see that being feasible and I don’t see that being constitutional,” said Harr, an attorney at Harr Law firm.
He suggested limiting the liability a business could face would be more realistic.
“We need the legislation because businesses are already suffering as it is and we don’t want this liability worry thrown on our back, we have enough on our backs,” said Mavronas.
According to the Daytona Regional Chamber, if talks surrounding this legislation move forward, it is possible we could see something being enacted in July of 2021.
Daytona Beach restaurant owner Christos Mavronas says he’s hoping for state legislation to protect them from frivolous covid-19 lawsuits. He says despite taking precautions, he is worried someone could decide to sue him if they believe they contacted the virus there @MyNews13 pic.twitter.com/xxIGGJxKfr— Nicole Griffin (@NicoleNews13) October 2, 2020