Physicians’ group asks Florida Supreme Court to reconsider medical malpractice case

A doctors’ group has requested that the Florida Supreme Court reconsider its rejection of an arbitration agreement in a lawsuit involving medical malpractice.

The request was filed by attorneys for physician Eileen Hernandez and Women’s Care Florida LLC, approximately two weeks after the arbitration agreement was tossed out in a case involving a stillborn baby.

The validity of arbitration agreements in lawsuits over health care has been a controversial topic of late, with the issue being considered by Florida appeals courts. The cases typically involve a health care provider asking patients or family members to sign an agreement stating that disputes will be resolved through binding arbitration rather than a jury trial. Advocates argue that such agreements take away the rights of injured people to obtain fair compensation from providers that make serious medical mistakes.

On December 22, the Florida Supreme Court rejected an arbitration agreement between Lualhati Crespo and Women’s Care Florida. Crespo delivered a stillborn son in 2011. She and her husband filed a lawsuit in 2013 and later requested binding arbitration under a state-law process. Women’s Care Florida said the case should be governed by the arbitration agreement Crespo signed, which would lead to binding arbitration through a different process.

The justices rejected the arbitration agreement, declaring it void as against public policy, in a 5-2 decision, because terms in the agreement clearly favored the health care provider, including terms related to the selection of the arbitration panel. Women’s Care Florida, in its motion for rehearing, said the state high court had encroached on the right to contract.

Florida ranked as most dangerous state for car accidents involving pedestrians

Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians.

According to the advocacy group Smart Growth America, Florida had 5,142 pedestrian fatalities from 2005 to 2014 and a pedestrian death rate of 2.66 per 100,000 people. The group assigned Florida a high Pedestrian Danger Index of 177 by comparing data on pedestrian deaths with the number of commuters who get to work on foot.

Seven of the country’s most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians are located in Florida, the group said. These included Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Palm Bay-Melborne-Titusville, and Cape-Coral-Fort Myers.

The director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, Emiko Atherton, said that despite the poor ranking, many Florida communities had actually improved from previous studies.

The study ranked 104 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country according to the danger posed to people on foot. Researchers found that seniors and people of color were overrepresented among the pedestrian deaths. While people of color make up 34.9 percent of the national population, they accounted for 46.1 of pedestrian fatalities.

Safety experts said that there are several causes of fatal collisions involving pedestrians, including unsafe street design, poorly maintained infrastructure, speeding and driver negligence.