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Bill providing personal injury liability protection for roller skating rinks on its way to the governor

Senior Editor Top Stories
Rep. Clay Yarborough

Rep. Clay Yarborough

The Legislature has approved the “Roller Skating Rink Safety Act,” a bill sponsors say would shield family friendly businesses from legal liability, and rising premiums.

The House voted 117-0 on April 2 to approve SB 1458 by Sen. Clay Yarborough, R-Jacksonville.

Winter Park Republican Susan Plasencia, the House sponsor, thanked Chanel Bellotto, a Lakeland business owner who championed the proposal.

“She owns a fantastic, family friendly rink,” Plasencia said.

If Gov. Ron DeSantis signs it, Florida would join Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Ohio, and Texas in limiting roller skating rink liability.

The measure describes roller skating rinks as a “wholesome family activity that should be encouraged” and asserts that rink owners “face a great difficulty in obtaining liability insurance coverage at an affordable cost.”

Bellotto told her hometown paper that her business, “Skate World,” saw its insurance premiums jump 40% in the past year.

The measures would not protect rink owners from their own “gross negligence.”

It would require owners to post at least three signs warning patrons that they assume the “inherent risks” of skating. Owners would also be required to maintain their rinks and equipment in a safe condition and have at least one manager on duty for every 200 skaters.

The bill is one of several “tort reform” measures that lawmakers sponsored this year.

Gov. Ron DeSantis last month signed HB 837, a sweeping litigation reform measure that, among other things, halves a four-year statute of limitations for negligence claims, switches Florida from a “pure” to a “modified” comparative negligence standard, and allows juries to consider the “criminal tortfeasor” when weighing fault in certain negligent security claims.

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