INVESTIGATES: Florida lawmaker standing in way of possibly changing medical malpractice law

Deja Chambers says she lost her mother, Angelia, to medical malpractice. “I called at least maybe three firms,” Chambers says, “and all of them stopped me dead in my tracks and they asked me how old I was.”

That’s because in Florida, if someone is killed by medical malpractice their family can only sue if the victim was married or, if they’re single, their children must be under the age of 25.

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Deja was 31 when her mother died, and was devastated. “I thought it was sick,” she tells Action News Jax Investigator Emily Turner. “I thought it was disgusting.”

She joined a group working to change the law, The Florida Medical Rights Association.

In her blog, founder Melody Page says Florida Representative Wyman Duggan has indicated he doesn’t support the legislation, having already voted against it last year.

Page says Duggan has told members of her group he plans to keep the bills from being heard in the House Civil Justice Committee, where he’s chairman.

“Obviously there are some politics behind this,” says Page, “and our group is quite irked and I have been for a long time that the politics are coming before the people.”

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Action News Jax Investigator Emily Turner reached out to Duggan multiple times over the last three months. Neither he nor anyone on his staff has responded to our calls, emails or requests.

Last month, Duggan hid behind closed doors ahead of the Duval Delegation meeting after we asked to speak with him.

So Action News Jax followed the money.

His political action committee, ‘Citizens for Building Florida’s Future,’ reports contributions from several top executives at Baptist Health, Brooks Rehabilitation and UF Health.

Because changing the law would mean more medical malpractice suits, many health organizations around the state have fought to amend it.

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That upsets Deja. “I’m already terrified,” she says. “I mean, all I can do is be hopeful at this point.”