Florida Appeals Judge’s Order Halting 14.5% Workers’ Comp Rate Increase

November 29, 2016

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation (OIR) is appealing a court order invalidating its approved 14.5 rate increase on Florida workers’ compensation rates that was set to take effect Dec. 1.

OIR filed its Notice of Appeal on Nov. 28 with the First District Court of Appeal in the Fee v. National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI)/Office court case. The appeal is in response to a court order issued on Nov, 23, 2016, which invalidated the 14.5 percent overall combined statewide average rate increase approved by OIR on Oct. 5, 2016.

Based on the OIR filing its Notice of Appeal, the rate halt is on hold until the case is reviewed by the First District Court of Appeals.

The challenge to the rate increase was brought by James Fee, a Miami attorney who represents injured workers. Fee claimed, and Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers agreed, that NCCI was in violation of Florida’s Sunshine Laws in holding “multiple, non-public, secret meetings” internally and with the OIR over the rates.

NCCI claims it has complied with applicable open meeting and other Sunshine Laws on transparency and noted after the judge’s ruling that it would appeal.

“NCCI is very disappointed in the decision of the Leon County Circuit Court. We continue to believe that NCCI and the Florida OIR have fully complied with the law,” NCCI said in a statement.

The increase scheduled to take effect applies to both new and renewal workers’ compensation insurance policies in Florida.

NCCI’s rate filing was originally submitted in May of this year and then amended in June to address the impact of two Florida Supreme court case decisions (Castellanos v. Next Door Company and Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg) and legislatively-mandated updates to the Florida Workers’ Compensation Health Care Provider Reimbursement Manual. The Castellanos ruling invalidated the state’s mandatory attorney fee schedule, while Westphal ruling found the 104-week statutory limitation on temporary total disability benefits unconstitutional.

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