May 2009

Even though the new House bill that overturns Emma Murray was voted  in Congress on May 1, it did not land on Governor Crist’s desk until this past Friday, May 15.  Therefore, Crist has until May 30 to veto the bill.  If he does nothing then, according to the Florida Constitution, the bill automatically becomes law. 

Considering Governor Crist’s penchant for doing nothing, it seems to be a safe assumption that this bill will become law.  But, that is not stopping some major news publications from arguing for Crist to veto the bill.  (See the St. Pete Times editorials here and here.)

But none of these editorials make the argument as succinctly and compelling as one I heard today from a fellow Workers’ Comp attorney.  He called it the “long thin clown balloon” theory and it goes as follows. . . (more…)

The phrase “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is applicable to all areas of jurisprudence.  But not Florida Workers’ Compensation law.  Here, we embrace ignorance of the law to an art form. 

For many Claimants, the process of receiving medical treatment is a confusing one.  Even though it is required of them, many physicians do not inform Claimants of their work status.  For Employer/Carriers this can be very frustrating since we are responsible for paying disability benefits based on the opinions of the authorized doctors.  Unfortunately for E/C’s, if a Claimant thinks that their doctor has them off work and that is not the case, but the doctor has failed to notify Claimant, the E/C still must pay.

In this case, ignorance is bliss. (more…)

When both Claimants and E/C’s are forced to litigate their disputes on the “rocket docket”–or 210 days from the date of Petition to trial–there has to be mutual cooperation between the parties to accommodate discovery.  If there can be no cooperation, for whatever reason, it is the Judge of Compensation Claims duty to weigh the interests of a quick resolution versus due process.

In a recent case, the First DCA leaned towards due process, allowing a Claimant to present a doctor’s testimony whose deposition may have (or not) violated a discovery order. (more…)

Making me eat my own words, the Florida Legislature reconciled the two versions of the anti-Emma Murray bill and decided to go with the much simpler House version,HB 903, which simply removes the word “reasonable” from section 440.34.  As everyone knows, the Supreme Court found that the 10/1/03 changes to 440.34 created a statutory ambiguity and this bill (now potentially the law) removes that ambiguity. (more…)

David A. MaCranie, Esq., who has been blogging about Florida’s Workers’ Comp law well before me, is a very respected attorney in the field and has been keeping better tabs than I on the political machinations of the Legislature’s attempts to overturn Emma Murray (see my prior posts about the subject here and here). 

In David’s blog, he reports that the Senate version of the bill–which has become Frankenstein’s monster–was approved yesterday by a unanimous vote of 39-0.  That amended version of the House bill brought back bad faith claims, raised the statutory fee percentages, removed JCC approval for Claimant paid fees, but gave an exception to first responders.   (more…)