Florida Chamber and Florida Justice Reform Institute File Amicus Brief in Important Workers’ Compensation Case

On January 8, 2016, the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Florida Justice Reform Institute filed an amicus curiae brief, or friend of the court brief, in support of Hialeah Hospital in Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital — a workers’ compensation case that seeks to make the workers’ comp system, in its entirety, unconstitutional.

Workers’ comp is essential for Florida employers, employees and families because it provides the health care necessary to help an injured employee return to work while also protecting job creators from costly litigation.

The jointly filed amicus brief maintains:

  • Stahl does not have standing, or has not proven that changes to the workers’ comp statute have adversely affected him, and
  • The case did not follow the proper judicial procedure for the Florida Supreme Court to determine if the statute is unconstitutional.

“As the leading advocate fighting to keep Florida’s workers’ comp system functioning, fair and affordable, we are concerned that the potential impact of this case could threaten Florida’s improving business climate,” said David Hart, Executive Vice President of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “This is another example of Florida’s billboard trial lawyers trying to dismantle a working system by doing what they do best – suing someone.”

Plaintiff attorney maneuvers like we’re seeing with workers’ comp are reflective of a larger legal abuse problem in Florida. In fact, a national survey shows Florida’s lawsuit climate worsening – ranking at an all-time low 44 out of 50 states, the bottom 10. That’s important because 75 percent of companies surveyed say a state’s lawsuit environment is likely to impact important business decisions at their company, such as where to locate or expand.

The Florida Chamber remains laser focused on ensuring workers’ comp rates are fair, and remain committed to ensuring the voices of job creators throughout Florida are heard before lawmakers in the halls of justice. Ensuring injured workers receive quality care and due process is also a priority.

“To secure Florida’s future, we must keep Florida’s workers’ comp system working,” Hart added.

For more than 10 years, the Florida Chamber has led efforts to help lowers workers’ comp rates by almost 60 percent.

Learn More:

If you would like more information, contact cjohnson@flchamber.com.

Justices Hear Arguments Over Potentially Costly Solar Amendment

Florida Chamber Urges Supreme Court to Reject Ambiguous Amendment

Fresh from advocating for Florida families and job creators, the Florida Chamber of Commerce has returned from today’s Florida Supreme Court hearings, where Justices heard debate on a proposed amendment that could increase energy cost. A group behind Limits or Prevents Barriers to Local Solar Electricity Supply defended their proposed amendment before the Florida Supreme Court.

“As a large and growing state, Florida needs a diverse energy portfolio that includes solar energy, however, the proposed constitutional amendment mandates major changes in existing law, using language that is unclear and misleading,” said Attorney General Pam Bondi in June.

The latest Florida Chamber Political Institute (FCPI) poll shows that Floridians support solar energy, but they do not support a proposed solar amendment that could drive up energy costs. Only 41 percent of likely Florida voters support this proposal – falling far short of passage.

The Florida Chamber filed an Amicus Brief with the Florida Supreme Court opposing this amendment. As noted in the brief prepared by former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero, the Florida Chamber believes:

  • The solar initiative violates the single-subject requirement, and
  • The title and summary of the amendment are deceptive and misleading to Florida voters.

The Florida Chamber has a long-standing tradition of opposing amendments that can be addressed legislatively or through the state’s budget, an opinion former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero shares in regards to this amendment.

“The proposed solar amendment would put into the Florida Constitution policy requirements that could be accomplished through the Legislative process. Voters should only be asked to amend the state Constitution if the proposed amendment clearly covers a single subject, which this proposed amendment does not,” said former Florida Supreme Court Justice Raoul Cantero.

David Hart, Florida Chamber Executive Vice President, in interviews with members of Florida’s Capitol Press Corps, told reporters that Floridians support solar. However, as Hart explained, “they just don’t support this one.”

With 30 proposed constitutional amendments attempting to make their way onto the ballot and into Florida’s Constitution, voters will be looking closely at those that might increase their utility costs.

Add Your Voice:

Sign the Florida Chamber’s resolution opposing this bad solar amendment. Contact Greg Blose at gblose@flchamber.com to obtain the resolution.

Court Rules In Favor of Job Creators/Against Trial Lawyers

The Third District Court of Appeals today ruled against trial lawyers, and in favor of the Florida Chamber and the state’s business community in a case that will help keep workers’ comp rates fair.

In a closely-watched case, Florida v. Florida Workers Advocates (also called the Padgett case), trial lawyers questioned the constitutionality of Florida’s entire workers’ comp system – claiming that the Florida Legislature has eroded workers’ comp benefits so severely that it should not be an exclusive remedy. In its ruling against the trial lawyers, the court found that Florida Workers Advocates did not have standing, nor was the case “moot.”

The Florida Chamber, in conjunction with our partners at the Florida Justice Reform Institute, filed an Amicus Brief on behalf of Florida’s business community, pointing out that the workers’ comp system should be the sole remedy if a worker is injured.

Ensuring Florida’s workers’ comp system is fair and not inflated by trial lawyer tactics and other unnecessary costs will help lower the cost of doing business in Florida. That’s why the Florida Chamber led the effort to help lower workers’ comp rates by more than 50 percent in the last 10 years.

What’s Next?

If this case is appealed, its next stop would be the Florida Supreme Court. In addition to this case, the Florida Supreme Court has already held oral arguments on two additional workers’ comp cases:

  • Castellanos v. Next Door Company, and
  • Westphal v. City of St Petersburg.

All three cases represent trial lawyers attempting to erode Florida’s workers comp system – an effort that could significantly increase workers’ comp rates.

Join Our Team

The Florida Chamber is committed to defending Florida’s business community against costly trial lawyer tactics and keeping workers’ comp rates low. Add your voice to the growing team of business advocates at the Florida Chamber by emailing cjohnson@flchamber.com.