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Workers Comp Case Drawing Heavy Attention

Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Florida Supreme Court case challenging the constitutionality of the state's workers-compensation insurance system is drawing heavy interest from legal, public-safety and insurance-industry groups.

At least 16 groups have been approved to file friend-of the-court briefs in the case, which the Supreme Court agreed last month to hear, according to an online docket.

The case involves injuries suffered in December 2003 by Daniel Stahl, a nurse at Hialeah Hospital who hurt his back lifting a patient.

In part, the legal dispute has centered on a move by lawmakers in 2003 to eliminate a type of benefits for partial disability. The Stahl case is one of at least three challenges pending at the Supreme Court to the state workers-compensation insurance laws.

Lawmakers passed a major overhaul of the system in 2003 that sought to reduce costs amid what business groups described as an insurance crisis.

But attorneys for injured workers have long argued that the changes went too far. Since agreeing to hear the Stahl case, the Supreme Court has repeatedly issued orders allowing outside groups to file briefs.

The latest came Monday, when the court approved a joint request from the Florida Insurance Council, the American Insurance Association, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies and the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America. Those groups will file a brief on behalf of Hialeah Hospital's position in the case.

Earlier, the court granted requests to file briefs on the other side of the case from groups such as the Florida Justice Association, the Florida Professional Firefighters, the Police Benevolent Association and the Fraternal Order of Police.

The Supreme Court has not set a date for arguments, according to the docket.

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