TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CN) – The Florida Legislature violated the constitution in 2003 when it passed a law granting special privileges to a private hospital, the Florida Supreme Court ruled.
After a series of disputes between Lawnwood Medical Care and its staff, the Legislature passed the St. Lucie County Hospital Governance Law (HGL).
The trial court found that the law gave the hospital too much power. Justice Pariente agreed that the law “grants the (hospital) board the right and power to unilaterally amend the medical staff bylaws, something it could not do before enactment of the HGL.”
He ruled that the law violated the equal protection clause of the constitution by treating the county hospitals differently than those in the rest of the state.
“Under the HGL,” the judge wrote, “the medical staff’s role in the area of staff membership has been all but eliminated.”
Aside from Florida, 14 other states have constitutional prohibitions against granting privileges to private corporations.