Legislative Session – Week 4
FJA Interim Executive Director Paul Jess discusses the progress of our civil justice agenda in the fourth week of the 2017 legislative session and what’s to come.
Episode 4 – Prove It!
In a major victory for civil justice advocates, the Florida Supreme Court in February 2017 threw-out the Daubert Standard of expert witness testimony, pointing to “grave constitutional concerns.” Four years earlier, the Florida Legislature passed Daubert into statute as a replacement to the longstanding Frye Standard, after pressure from business interests. But the Court declined to adopt it, as well as the “Same Specialty” rule, siding with the Florida Bar and FJA’s concerns that doing so would risk undermining the right to a jury trial and deny access to the courts.
Troy Rafferty and Paul Jess, who championed the Florida Justice Association’s successful efforts to eliminate the Daubert Standard in Florida courts explain in this program why the Court’s decision on expert testimony is so important for Florida’s trial attorneys and warn practitioners that it’s still critical to have Daubert ruled unconstitutional, to the extent it is procedural.
Program Note: Attorneys who are facing this argument and want to preserve the constitutional challenge to Daubert can refer to the arguments made in Nixon vs. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company (http://bit.ly/RJRcase) in the 15th Judicial Circuit Court, Palm Beach County, February 27, 2017.
Other documents of reference mentioned in this podcast:
- Report of the Florida Bar Code and Rules of Evidence Committee(http://bit.ly/SCOFLAFLBAR)
- Baricko v. Barnett Transportation (Workers' Compensation)(http://bit.ly/Baricko)
Episode 3 Part Two – Business Proposal Bad for Workers
Noted Workers' Compensation attorneys Kim Syfrett and Richard Chait return to FJA Radio for a no-holds barred discussion in this second part of our Workers’ Compensation program to share their reaction to the Florida business community’s reform proposal to a system the state Supreme Court ruled last year as “fundamentally unconstitutional.”
In what they describe as a “shock to the conscience”, Kim and Richard reveal that the Associated Industries of Florida proposal would eliminate a more than 70 year-old carrier-paid obligation for attorney fees when benefits are wrongly denied. Fourteen years of eroding workers’ benefits during past reforms and “incredulous profits by insurance companies” shares Richard, has now created a situation where the only way to prevent total fracture of the system and fall into a tort system under the AIF proposal, would be to institute a bad faith remedy.
“Essentially what the (business) industry is saying with this proposal is ‘We’re going to keep our right to choose your doctor, we’re going to keep our right to decide whether you get the medical treatment that doctor recommends, and when we decide that we don’t want to give it to you, we’re going to make you pay to show that we were wrong. And there’s not going to be any consequence for our wrongful denial.’”
- Attorney Kim Syfrett
Episode 3 Part One – Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Crossroad
The Florida Legislature is facing a monumental challenge when it convenes in March: How to address a workers’ compensation insurance system which the Florida Supreme Court has determined to be “fundamentally unconstitutional” with respect to certain rights and remedies.
Workers’compensation attorney Richard Chait, a senior partner at Touby, Chait & Sicking in Coral Gables and longstanding leader in this field, chairs the Workers' Compensation Section at the Florida Justice Association. He and fellow attorney Kim Syfrett, a managing partner of Syfrett, Dykes & Furr in Panama City share their insight in this program on the Court’s rulings and the challenges faced by their clients who routinely face delay or denial of the provision of medical treatment and related benefits in what they view to be a “fractured system” in Florida.
Chait details the Florida Justice Association’s four pillars geared toward positively reforming the system in this upcoming legislative session:
- The need for transparency and competition in the ratemaking process
- Some element of choice in the provision of medical treatment by the injured worker
- Revitalization of the post-maximum medical improvement benefit for those who suffer career-altering injuries
- Codify the Supreme Court’s decision in Castellanos to ensure access to court through reasonable attorney’s fees when benefits are wrongfully denied
You’ll also hear about the ever-growing “cocoon of collateral interests” which has spun so tightly around the core principles of workers’ comp through the extensive reforms over the years that we can no longer appreciate its underlying intent – to make sure the injured employee is taken care of.
Episode 2 – Manage Millennials in Your Law Firm with Dana Brooks Cooper of Barrett, Fasig & Brooks in Tallahassee.
Episode 1 – Part One – Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Crossroad