Federal judge dismisses lawsuit to block Florida PIP reform
In his decision, Lazzara found no basis for the plaintiffs’ claims that, because the law constrains PIP coverage for chiropractors and proscribes it altogether for massage therapists and acupuncturists, they were denied due process and equal protection under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
“What plaintiffs fail to grasp is that although they do have a state-created property interest in their professional licenses, that interest is only subject to procedural due process protection and not substantive due process protection,” Lazzara wrote, adding that the practitioners’ procedural due process rights are covered by the legislative process that passed the law.
Lazzara added that the statutory restrictions in the PIP reform law do not appear to impinge on the plaintiffs’ liberties to follow their chosen professions. R Street Florida Director Christian R. Cámara called the decision a victory for Florida consumers, who have had borne the burden of exploding medical costs as part of their auto insurance premiums.
“Gov. Scott and the Florida Legislature heard the calls from Florida consumers about their runaway auto insurance costs and took action to cut out the fraud and unscrupulous claims that were driving up rates,” Cámara said. “The federal court did the right thing in upholding those cost-saving, pro-consumer reforms by throwing out this lawsuit. It is unfortunate that opponents of reform who couldn’t get their way in the Capitol last year insist on using the courts to legislate on their behalf.”
Lazzara’s decision allowed the plaintiffs to proceed with a separate suit in Florida state court, which he said was in better position to judge unique claims made under Florida constitutional law. That suit, Myers, et al vs. Kevin McCarty, was filed Jan. 9 in Tallahassee in the Second Judicial Circuit Court for Leon County.
R Street is a non-profit public policy research organization that supports free markets; limited, effective government; and responsible environmental stewardship. It has headquarters in Washington, D.C. and branch offices in Tallahassee, Fla.; Austin,Texas; and Columbus, Ohio. Its website is www.redesign.rstreet.org.