In the Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln declared that we are a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Sadly, this message has not registered with Florida lawmakers. (Please see this blog for a significant modification of this statement.)
As should be the case, individuals and corporations whose negligence causes harm in Florida must pay full compensation for the damage caused by those acts. (Major exception: doctors and medical facilities.) For example, if a civil jury renders a verdict against driver A in the amount of $1,000,000 for crashing into the rear of driver B at 60 mph while operating a company vehicle, a judgment in that amount will be entered by the court against driver A and the company. (Whether or not driver A and the company have the capacity to pay, through insurance or otherwise, is another issue.)
Unfortunately, this would not be the outcome if the at-fault vehicle were owned by the government. In that situation, Florida law (768.28(5)) nullifies the voice of the jury, only allowing the judge to enter a judgment against the government (e.g., city, state, governmental agency, village, etc.) in the amount of $100,000. That’s right. The government is not subject to the considered decision of the jury. If that isn’t bad enough, when the negligence occurs at the planning level stage, instead of at the operational stage, the government has absolute immunity from being sued. This means that a lawsuit will not be allowed to proceed against the government when the negligence occurs at the planning stage.
Parties held fully accountable for the consequences of their actions learn to modify their behavior for the better. Those not held accountable, do not learn or modify. This is the problem with Florida’s sovereign (i.e., government) immunity law. The sovereign acts with impunity because the consequences of its bad acts are de minimus. I say take away the government’s sovereign immunity. Make it equally accountable as private individuals and corporations. Maybe then the sovereign will act as it should, with due regard for the health, safety, and welfare of the people, instead of the other way around. As Abraham Lincoln famously said, we are a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”
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.
Contact us at 866-785-GALE or by email to learn your rights.