Last year, the Florida Supreme Court took on two major issues pertaining to the state’s workers’ compensation program, in both cases handing a victory to injured workers. However, now business industry lobbyists are pushing for workers’ compensation reforms that will undercut those victories.
As Capitol News Service reports, the Florida Chamber of Commerce President was quoted as saying there is a big price tag on the horizon if workers’ compensation law in Florida isn’t “fixed.” He added that based on the Florida Supreme Court’s decisions in favor of workers, “There’s a one and a half billion dollar tax increase on jobs in Florida.” This, he said, is going to cut into the creation of new jobs.
But what this overlooks is the fact that the previous system was inherently unfair to workers – and the attorneys who took up their cases. Specifically, the chamber president is referring to the case of Castellanos v. Next Door Company, which was decided last April. That case involved the constitutionality of the mandatory fee schedule for plaintiff attorneys in workers’ compensation cases, set forth in F.S. 440.34. The court ruled that the mandatory fee schedule creates a presumption that can’t be rebutted as to whether an attorney’s compensation is in fact reasonable, which in turn violates both the state and federal Constitutions as a violation of due process. Continue reading →