Legal Updates

UNIVERSITY COVID-19 FEES As previously reported, University of South Florida students filed a lawsuit against the university seeking a refund of fees collected during the COVID-19 pandemic when the university was shut down for on-campus classes. The plaintiffs have appealed to the Florida Supreme Court to have the lawsuit dismissed based on their contention of sovereign immunity.

UNIVERSITY COVID-19 FEES PART TWO The 1st District Court of Appeal, in a split decision, ruled in the University of Florida’s favor regarding the reimbursement of fees. The lawsuit sought refunds of fees paid for transportation, health care and athletics services that were not provided because of the shutdown. The 1st District decision was opposite of the 2nd District’s decision in favor of the students. The conflicting rulings prompted the appeal to the Florida Supreme Court to finalize the decision, one way or the other.

INDIGENT CARE A 2011 lawsuit regarding hospital reimbursement for indigent care has finally been settled. Three private hospitals sued Sarasota County to force the county to reimburse them millions of dollars, approximating $100 million. The judge ruled that private hospitals are bound by state and federal laws to provide care for the poor and therefore, are not entitled to reimbursement.

WRONGFUL DEATH AWARD A Sarasota judge awarded the family of Gabby Petito, the woman killed by her boyfriend in Utah, $3 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Brian Laundrie. The judge’s ruling negates the scheduled December trial. A separate lawsuit against Laundrie’s parents remains pending.

COVID-19 GRAND JURY The Florida Supreme Court has granted Governor DeSantis’ petition to convene a grand jury to investigate “any and all wrongdoing” with respect to COVID-19 vaccines. He also created a public health integrity committee, which will include physicians and scientists opposed to the lockdowns, federal vaccine mandates and child vaccinations during the pandemic. The surgeon general will be conducting research with the University of Florida and the Florida Department of Health to assess sudden deaths as a result of the vaccinations.