With No Legislative Fix In Sight, Court Reinstates Workers’ Comp Rate Increase

By: Carolyn Johnson

First District Court of Appeals Officially Reinstates 14.5 Percent Increase

Just one day after lawmakers closed out the 2017 Legislative Session without fixing Florida’s broken workers’ compensation system, the First District Court of Appeals (DCA) today issued a ruling reversing a lower court’s ruling and officially reinstated the 14.5 workers’ comp rate increase  which originally took effect December of 2016.

The DCA made its ruling on the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) and Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) v. James Fee case. Fee is a workers’ comp trial attorney. Fee filed a lawsuit against NCCI and OIR arguing that they violated the Sunshine Law while determining the rate increase associated with two Florida Supreme Court rulings. Days before the rate increase was to take effect, the Leon Circuit Court invalidated the 14.5 percent workers’ comp increase under the grounds that the Sunshine Law had been violated. After the case was appealed to the First DCA, a stay was issued, allowing the rate increase to take effect. The First DCA found that NCCI and OIR complied with the multiple elements of the Sunshine Law and that the rate increase should take effect.

Unfortunately, this decision comes the day after the Florida Legislature concluded the 2017 Legislative Session without taking steps to protect job creators from this rate increase. Throughout session, NCCI and Florida’s workers’ comp ratemaking process were consistently under attack by the trial bar.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce fiercely advocated for a fix to Florida’s broken workers’ comp system, and believe that this case was designed to serve as a distraction from the real issue at hand – resolving the Florida Supreme Court decision that led to the 14.5 percent – or $1.5 billion – workers’ comp rate increase in the first place.

 

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