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Tags: Coronavirus | rondesantis | florida | hipaa | foia | nursinghomes

Miami Herald: Gov. DeSantis' Lawyers Stifle FOIA Suit

ron desantis speaks at a podium with smiling staff in front of a florida flag
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks at the Panama City City Hall on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019.  (Joshua Boucher/News Herald via AP)

By    |   Sunday, 12 April 2020 08:43 AM

The Miami Herald's law firm claims Gov. Ron DeSantis' legal counsel pressured them to drop a freedom of information act (FOIA) lawsuit aimed at releasing names of nursing homes that have a confirmed coronavirus case.

"We are disappointed that the governor's office would go so far as to apply pressure on our legal counsel to prevent the release of public records that are critical to the health and safety of Florida's most vulnerable citizens," according to Herald publisher and executive editor Aminda Marqués González said.

"We shouldn't have had to resort to legal action in the first place. Anyone with a relative in an elder care facility has a right to know if their loved ones are at risk, so they can make an informed decision about their care."

The FOIA is still going to be filed with another law firm, according to the report.

While Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) laws would restrict the names of the infected to be released, the Herald was not seeking names, it said, just the case counts at the senior care facilities in Florida.

The FOIA would require the state to provide the paper with a legal justification to not release the information.

Spokeswoman for Gov. DeSantis, Helen Ferré, denied any pressure campaign applied to the paper's original law firm, per the report.

"It is patently false to say that the governor's office contacted Holland & Knight to ask that the firm not file a lawsuit on behalf of the Miami Herald," Ferré told the paper.

"It is normal practice for attorneys to use the filing of the five-day legal notice to see if there is a possible resolution to avoid unnecessary litigation. That was the reason General Counsel Joe Jacquot made a call to Holland & Knight attorney George Meros."

Florida's Department of Health reported 787 confirmed cases at long-term care facilities Saturday, including one locale where six had died from COVID-19, per the report.

Florida has at least 18,986 confirmed cases as of Easter Sunday and has reported at least 446 deaths, according to Worldometers data culled from Johns Hopkins University and recent health officials' reports.

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Politics
The Miami Herald's law firm claims Gov. Ron DeSantis' legal counsel pressured them to drop a freedom of information act (FOIA) lawsuit aimed at releasing names of nursing homes that have a confirmed coronavirus case....
rondesantis, florida, hipaa, foia, nursinghomes
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2020-43-12
Sunday, 12 April 2020 08:43 AM
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