The Florida Supreme Court has set oral arguments for November 5th 2014 in the case of Marvin Castellanos vs. Next Door Company, Et. Al. This case will decide if the 2003 and 2009 Amendments to the Attorney Fee law are unconstitutional. In 2003, the Legislature amended the law and limited the amount of attorney’s fees. This severely limited the types of cases or claims an attorney could file.
The Court will now decide if the 2003 and 2009 law prevents certain cases or claimants the access to courts as allowed under the Constitution. This decision may be seen as having the greatest impact on Florida Workers’ Compensation law since its inception. The decision can be expected within three to six months subsequent to oral arguments.
Why is this important? It is important because of what else is going on in the state at this same time. Florida is in the middle of some very highly contested political campaigns, most notably for the Governors Mansion. By the time the decision comes out we will know the political landscape. When dealing with an administrative law court as opposed to a county or circuit court there are some unique procedural differences that are worth pointing out. When election time rolls around, we all vote for county and circuit judges within our area.
What you don’t see on the ballot are people running for Administrative Law Judge. This is because the Governor may appoint these judges to the Division of Administrative Hearings without a vote or any sort of insight from the citizens. This is not necessarily a bad or good thing as there are still checks and balances in place and these judges are still extremely capable and honorable Jurists.
The issue for injured workers is how judges appointed by certain Governors interpret the law. Governors tend to appoint people to positions, not just judicial but all positions, who are like minded. Just as anyone of us would do if in the same position. Whatever your political views, when you go to vote on November 4th you should think about the case being heard the following day and contemplate how your vote could affect injured workers depending on how judges appointed by the Governor will interpret the law going forward.
If you want more information about the Castallanos case or a Governor or politicians’ records regarding workers compensations, please feel free to call us at 561-598-7120.