Florida had to shell out $1.1 million in attorney’s fees to lawyers with gun control group the Brady Campaign, ending the lengthy court battle over the state’s law preventing health care workers from asking about their patients’ guns
Republican Gov. Rick Scott’s office approved the mediated agreement the state was obligated per a federal court order, Brady said Monday in a statement.
The legal victory for the organization came in the prolonged fight on behalf of physicians’ lobby groups in the case of Wollschlaegerr v. Florida. More popularly known as “Docs vs. Glocks,” Florida decided not to pursue the case to the U.S. Supreme Court and let a February decision from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stand.
“Florida taxpayers just paid $1.1 million because of the gun industry’s unconstitutional, anti-truth agenda designed to increase gun sales at any cost — including children’s lives,” said Dan Gross, Brady president. “Physicians have a critical role to play in preventing these deaths by talking to patients about the true dangers of guns in the home, and we will not allow their voices to be silenced by the gun industry.”
In February, a 10-1 panel of the 11th Circuit felt the Firearm Owners’ Privacy Act, signed into law by Scott in 2011 after passage by the state legislature, placed health care providers at a dangerous crossroads that affected how they could talk to their patients.
“Doctors can choose silence and self-censorship, thereby shouldering the burden of knowing they could have said more, counseled more, and warned more before a tragic accident,” said Judge Stanley Marcus in one of two majority opinions. “Or they may proceed with their speech and potentially face punishment according to the arbitrary whims of annoyed patients or a Board of Medicine that is wholly unrestrained by clear statutory guidelines.”
Second Amendment advocates argued the Brady Center and their allied physicians’ groups kept pressing through three pro-gun victories in the litigation until they achieved a sympathetic ruling to part of their claim, as the portion of the law holding that doctors cannot discriminate against or drop patients due to their feelings on firearms remains in effect.
This week, Gross characterized the seven-figure payout as a bellwether to lawmakers considering similar legislation. “This award is a message to states to think twice before enacting or defending laws that put lives at risk just to boost the gun industry’s bottom line,” Gross said.