National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation Defends Florida’s 2003 Workers’ Comp Reforms


Florida Supreme Court To Consider Whether Or Not Reforms Are Constitutional

Washington, D.C. (CompNewsNetwork) - A critical case on the way to the Florida Supreme Court may jeopardize significant reforms made to the state’s workers’ compensation system in 2003. The National Federation of Independent Business Legal Foundation, the nation’s leading small-business advocate in the courts, is getting involved in this case and urging the Florida Supreme Court to rule that the comprehensive workers’ compensation reforms enacted in 2003 are constitutional.
The main thrust of the 2003 reforms was the ability to rein in obscene attorney fees. The reforms established guideline attorney fees based upon a percentage of the benefits obtained by the claimant in a workers’ compensation case and eliminating fee awards based upon an hourly rate.
“The 2003 reforms have been very well received by the small-business community. Due to the common sense changes made to the system, workers' compensation rates have declined throughout the state and business owners are protected from attorney’s who purposely rake up the number of hours they spend on workers’ compensation claims,” said Karen Harned, executive director of NFIB’s Legal Foundation. “If the court decides to overrule these reforms, workers’ compensation costs will undoubtedly rise and burden businesses, resulting in a blow to Florida’s economy.”
In the case before the Florida Supreme Court, Murray v. Mariner Health, the claimant’s attorney racked up 80 hours in attorneys fees, when the underlying claimant was only seeking $3,224 in benefits. The trial lawyers want the reforms overruled so that they can be paid by the hour and are arguing that the reforms violate equal protection and due process laws.
“When lawyers are abusing the state’s workers’ compensation system and gouging business owners, the Legislature should be permitted to reform the system and the court should uphold these reforms,” said Harned.
Oral arguments for this case are scheduled for October 30, 2008 in the Florida Supreme Court.

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