Florida Supreme Court Ruling Bad for Businesses and Jobs

By: Edie Ousley

Florida Chamber of Commerce to Lead Efforts to Keep Workers’ Comp Working &
Ensure the Voices of Job Creators Are Heard

 “As Florida’s leading advocate fighting to keep workers’ comp working, the potential impact of the high court’s ruling could threaten Florida’s improving business climate. The Florida Chamber remains laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and we will lead the effort before lawmakers and in the halls of justice to ensure the voices of job creators are heard.”

– Mark Wilson, President and CEO, Florida Chamber of Commerce

TALLAHASSEE, FL (April 28, 2016) – Florida’s high court today ruled against job creators in a case that could threaten Florida’s improving business climate and force workers’ compensation rates to increase, the Florida Chamber of Commerce announced today.

Even though business’ workers’ comp rates have continued to decrease, today’s Florida Supreme Court ruling in the Castellanos v. Next Door Company case could potentially push rates toward the near record levels of the early 2000s – levels that forced many Florida businesses to stop hiring and to go out-of-business. Justices ruled that the current attorney fee provision for workers’ comp cases is unconstitutional.

“As Florida’s leading advocate fighting to keep workers’ comp working, the potential impact of the high court’s ruling could threaten Florida’s improving business climate,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

NCCI, the state’s ratemaking agency, will be looking at the impact to workers’ comp rates as a result of today’s decision. The last time the Florida Supreme Court threw out the attorneys’ fee provision, in the Emma Murray case in 2008, rates increased by over six percent.

Just as it led efforts for more than 10 years to help lower rates by almost 60 percent, and fully anticipating an anti-jobs outcome by Florida’s activist court, the Florida Chamber – which filed an Amicus Brief in this case – has already begun leading the charge to once again keep workers’ comp working.

In a letter to Governor Rick Scott, President Andy Gardiner and Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Florida Chamber President Mark Wilson wrote:

“…we have created a short-term task force that has already begun the process of preparing for a legislative response and remedy should the court decide against the legislature and small businesses.”

The Florida Chamber Workers’ Comp Task Force is co-chaired by Debbie Harvey, Chair of the Florida Chamber’s Small Business Council, and Steve Knopik, Immediate Past Chair of the Florida Chamber Board of Directors.

“The Florida Chamber remains laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and we will lead the effort before lawmakers and in the halls of justice to ensure the voices of job creators are heard,” said Wilson. Click here to read a guest editorial, published in the Pensacola News Journal, on this issue by Wilson.

While the Florida Chamber is disappointed in today’s Castellanos ruling, we applaud their decision to discharge jurisdiction in the Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital. This case had oral arguments earlier this month.

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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit www.FloridaChamber.com for more information.