As you all know, the Florida Legislature passed pension reform legislation that also included a “shot across the bow” related to presumptive legislation. The law creates a “task force” to make specific legislative recommendations for the 2012 session to either amend or eliminate Florida presumptive legislation which includes the Heart/Lung Bill (F.S. 112.18). Due to the gravity of the threat, it is absolutely imperative that all claims related to cardiac conditions (including hypertension) are perfected prior to the effective date of any statutory enactments. We anticipate that whatever legislation ultimately passes will be signed into law by Governor Scott and become effective July 1, 2012.
Thankfully, Mike Clelland, who is a partner at this firm, has been selected to participate in the task force, along with several other individuals who are sensitive to the extremely important nature of presumptive legislation for first responders. Our hope is that the task force will operate in a measured and deliberate way to ensure that the Heart/Lung Bill remains viable for our clients. We recognize, however, that given the political environment, and the severe economic picture, our fight to maintain the presumption in its current form, let alone improve same, will be an uphill battle. This firm is committed to take the fight to the task force, and all the way through the legislative process, but we also must recognize the possibility of severe cuts to, or the elimination of, presumptive legislation. Understanding the worst case scenario, we are engaging in what is an unprecedented statewide effort to protect first responders with presumptive claims.
Beginning on September 22, 2011 our law firm will start a barnstorming tour of the entire State of Florida to ensure that all first responders have the information they need to perfect claims before the law changes. These events will be educational but there will also be an opportunity at each workshop for first responders, and anyone potentially impacted by changes to the presumptive laws, to meet face to face with an attorney and take whatever steps are necessary to protect their interests. We will walk each individual through the entire process from making a claim for hypertension or heart disease all the way through litigation and appeal if necessary. There will be absolutely no cost to attend any of these educational events or to have questions answered by our attorneys. Our only goal is to make certain that anyone who wants to file a claim for either hypertension or heart disease is able to do so before we experience potentially catastrophic changes in the law.
At present the following events have been scheduled:
1. Miami Florida, September 21, 2011. Florida’s Heart Lung Bill: A Call to Action. Open forum for all firefighters, police officers, corrections officers and anyone impacted by the current law or who might be impacted by changes to the law.
Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables Florida, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Free consultations by appointment call toll free 866.245.8977
2. Miami Florida, September 22, 2011. Bench and Bar conference: Florida’s Heart Lung Bill—Current state of the law. Sponsored by the Dade County Bar Association.
Dade County Courthouse, 11:30 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
3. Key West Florida, September 23, 2011. Florida’s Heart Lung Bill: A Call to Action. Open forum for all firefighters, police officers, correctional officers, and anyone impacted by the current law or who might be impacted by changes to the law.
The Holiday Inn Beachside, 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
4. September 29, 2011, Panama City Florida. Florida’s Heart Bill: A Call to Action (open forum-see above). Hilton conference room, Panama City, Florida 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
5. September 30, 2011, Panama City Florida. Bench and Bar Conference sponsored by the Offices of Judges of Compensation Claims and the Bay County Bar Association. Bay County Office Complex, Panama City, Florida, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
6. October 6, 2011 through October 8, 2011, Ft. Lauderdale Florida, Bahia Mar Hotel. Florida’s Heart Lung Bill: A Call to Action in conjunction with the Ft Lauderdale Firefighter Expo. Open forum and Questions and Answers every day of the expo.
7. October 21, 2011, Orlando Florida Bench and Bar presentation with Judges of Workers’ Compensation: Florida’s Heart Lung Bill—the current state of the law. 11:30-2:00. Site to be determined (lunch will be served).
8. November 13, 2011 through November 15, 2011, Weston Florida Hyatt Regency. In conjunction with Florida Professional Firefighter Annual Fall Conferences. Florida’s Heart Bill: A Call to Action: update on the work of the presumption task force and educational presentation time to be determined. Questions and Answers at our booth during the entire retreat.
9. November 19, 2011, Jacksonville Florida. Bench and Bar conference with Judges of Compensation Claims. Site and time to be determined.
This list is being expanded daily and we are more than willing to come directly to any city, town, or village in the State to make direct presentations to first responders with questions. Please mark your calendars so that you can join us when we come to your town and, perhaps more importantly, make sure anyone who may have questions or a claim involving hypertension or heart disease gets to us before the law changes.
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