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Friday, April 4, 2014

Life Experience Part Two

In part one I wrote about the task we had been handed and being co-chair of a committee charged with that task of drafting a totally new conceptual workers compensation law for Florida. Having put the final law and product behind us and not hearing anything for a very long time we assumed our draft had been archived in the deep recesses of the legislature. Then one day a legislative courier came to our office and asked to see me. The receptionist said she would deliver the package but he insisted he was to give it only to me personally. Our regional managers office was adjacent to reception desk so he over heard the conversation. It is not every day a legislative courier hand delivers anything to you so this was an event. I opened the package and there was a fresh copy of the new workers compensation law. I dug out the one we had submitted and laid them side by side and went through every word and sentence. They had passed our proposed law without a single change or comma. It was exactly the same as we had submitted. I was dumbfounded and notified my committee members but they had also received a copy. We were stunned - exactly as presented and it was an overwhelming vote that passed it.

My boss didn’t say anything for a few days about the courier but finally he couldn't wait any longer. He had his own immediate problems inasmuch as he personally recommended our company buy a small company in Alabama. I had offered to check their claims because that can tell a lot about the stability of a company. He refused and when our home office staff suggested he let me review a sampling of their claims he said he had already checked a good sampling of their claims and they were good..  We bought the company and almost immediately problems were noted. Suddenly several boxes of claims were stacked in my office to review and report to the home office supervisor. I went through them and found what is referred to as stair stepping reserves. A highly dangerous practice which gave the company a completely false financial presentation. When I told our home office personnel what was going on my boss had problems of his own and was not happy with my report which he would rather I not make. When the proper reserves were established the company was a complete loser and Mr. boss was on the hook trying to explain how he could have missed this defect. Stair stepping is illegal in most states.

He then called me into his office and asked why a legislative courier would deliver something to me. I could have lied but that is not my nature so I told him the truth. I told him it was a new workers compensation law that I helped write as co-chair of a special secret legislative committee. He was livid, fired me since he did not feel he could trust me any longer since I had not told him. I didn’t tell him because I was told not to but didn’t trust him either. We kept our work secret even after we finished drafting the law and up until recently. Who would believe us anyway since we had no proof or our secret work? None of us were really looking for recognition anyway, we did the task asked of us and let it go. He did ask me to remain until I could train all the other employees on how to work with the law which I felt strangely obligated to do. He was the type manager who hired the best personnel available and then when they demonstrated their talent and skills he would feel threatened and find a reason to fire them. I was also tired of interviewing highly skilled employees for him and then in a couple years watching them go out the door. Now I was one of them going out the door too.

Now when I think back on it I sometimes wonder if it actually happened.  16 people working in secret for weeks and no record of what we did. Florida now does have a wage loss law that totally changed from the original law and is so different that the old law seems ancient. I can’t even guess how many have benefited from that new law. Every one seemed to like the law but the plaintiff lawyers who tried to make the law fail but the law was to solid and the gravy train slowly ground to a halt. They could still get a fee but the insurance companies had to fail to properly apply the law.  What was even more ironic is that workers compensation was not one of my best areas of expertise. I was more than proficient in WC law but far from an expert. It did give me a chance to rise to a level that I had never known before. I spent a lot of time in research and was thankful to have several very professional lawyers on the committee to make sure we did drafting the law right. .

In part three I will tell of how this  single occurrence changed my life for the better and the lessons I have learned.

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