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Child Services Tort Reform Being Considered

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TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) – While the GOP-controlled Florida Legislature works on capping lawsuit awards for medical malpractice, lawmakers are also proposing capping damages that could be assessed against Florida’s community-based care organizations.

Under the bills proposed in the Florida House and Senate, the most a child services provider could be forced to pay would be $500,000 per claim. Currently, the limit is at $1 million per claim.

The bill’s sponsor in the House, Rep. Scott Plakon, told the News Service of Florida that the said the bill protects DCF due to the state agency outsourcing most of its services.

But, Democrats counter that in the wake of the Barahona tragedy, the caps would reduce the incentive for the contractors to do their jobs properly.

“The Barahona case is an example of why we need more accountability and responsibility in the foster care system, not less,” Senate Democratic Leader Nan Rich told the News Service of Florida. “Limited liability would mean less. We are already seeing, as a result of the task force investigating the Barahona case, the lack of coordination, the lack of accountability as far as the performance indicators are concerned.”

Former DCF Secretary George Sheldon said he understood the concerns behind the legislation, but doesn’t support it.

“I just don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Sheldon told the News Service of Florida. “It really is overkill.”

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service Of Florida contributed to this report.)

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