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Thursday, April 3, 2014

true Life Story - Part One

It was mid 1970's and I was working as a regional claim supervisor for a large national company. I was supervising 5 southern states and had all I could do without more responsibility added each day. I received an invite from several Florida legislators to meet at a downtown hotel in Orlando. When a group of state congress persons invite you to a private meeting you don't say no so I went as scheduled. There were about 16 of us present. We were told that they wanted to change our workers compensation law to a different type of law they had heard about. We had an indemnity type law that had a fixed schedule of compensation depending on the type of injury and they wanted to embrace a new law that only existed in Wisconsin and Kentucky. It was called a wage loss concept law.

They had done some checking and those present were highly recommended by industrial judges and others in the field. They had been flooded from proposals from the AMA,  bar assoc. and insurance industry that did not come close to what they actually wanted. They were inundated with bias proposals and wanted a law that was fair to injured employees, employers and the insurance industry. If we agreed to write this law for them we had to swear to total secrecy and not tell anyone even wives or highly trusted co-workers.  They did not want us influenced by any outside source. They appointed myself and an attorney as co-chairmen of the committee and divided us equally. The task was to go through the law item by item and then the attorney and myself would sit down together and negotiate or agree on the final result. If we couldn't agree it went back to committee for a more favorable drafting.

I assigned each of those on my half the committee to take a section of the law and revise it to the wage loss concept. Since it was new I had to research the concept and educate my committee people. Once done we started on page one of the law and completely rewrote it one section at a time in secret. We started by changing the name of the law from Workman's Compensation Law which it had been from the 30's to Workers Compensation Law to be more inclusive. We cut out all the scheduled payments, changed the medical treatment provisions and cut out attorneys fees unless the insurance company failed to provide a service as prescribed by our new law. We changed the law to a broader based law that provided more uniform benefits to employees on every level. After weeks of hard work by our small group working in secret we hammered out a totally new law with broader benefits, more simple to follow, and what we were asked to do. I had the new law typed up and prepared by Elsie a female lawyer in Daytona Beach, then I personally hand carried it to my legislative contact Fran Carlton. We did not hear back and finally pretty much forgot about it. But that is not the end of the story - only the beginning of something that totally changed the direction of my life. More in part two and the lessons learned in Part three - the final chapter.

This is not a brag, but simply a time in my life that I have not spoken much about until now except for a handful of close friends. In our current culture and work environment the lessons learned may be of value to others and it is time to talk about it. I was a hands on supervisor and went to most all of the hearings and even appeals. Hence I knew several in the industry and they knew me from years of working together.  That played a large role in ending up doing what I did. Florida needed a fair equitable law that would benefit millions of workers and we took on the task - just 16 of us in secret.

1 comment:

Carol said...

It was interesting that we received a "nasty" comment from Sam in Shreveport, LA...and of course because we are smart we know who wrote it. Bruce spent many years in the insurance industry and was known for his expertise and knowledge of the law...and he still is. Participation in the creation of this law was one of the highlights of a long and successful career. No need to feel sorry for anyone, Sam.