Florida Public Utililty Companies (e.g., FPL) and Medically Essential Electric Service

Florida Statute 366.15 addresses the issue of medical dependence on electric-powered equipment and public utility companies. Unfortunately, the statute appears to be a toothless tiger.

Many Floridians who live in private residences are dependent on electric-powered equipment that must be operated continuously to avoid the loss of life or immediate hospitalization. Not infrequently, the money to pay for the electric service to power the life support equipment is not always readily available.

One might conclude from reading the statute that public utility companies must overcome numerous procedural hurdles in order to disconnect service to individuals in need of “medically essential” electric-powered equipment. For example, the statute speaks in terms of prior notice to the customer and providing information regarding funding sources to pay electric bills. However, the last paragraph of the statute, which provides as follows, sends a somewhat different message: (11) Nothing in this act shall form the basis for any cause of action against a public utility. Failure to comply with any obligation created by this act does not constitute evidence of negligence on the part of the public utility.

What this last paragraph says to me is that a utility company’s failure to meet the reasonable expectations of the statute may not give rise to negative consequences. As of this date, there are no Florida appellate court decisions which interpret the statute one way or the other. Until we have more direction from the legislature or courts on the subject, my advice to those dependent on medically-essential electric-powered equipment is to make absolutely certain that your electric bills are paid on time.

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Jeffrey P. Gale, P.A. is a South Florida based law firm committed to the judicial system and to representing and obtaining justice for individuals – the poor, the injured, the forgotten, the voiceless, the defenseless and the damned, and to protecting the rights of such people from corporate and government oppression. We do not represent government, corporations or large business interests.

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