A new bill in the Florida State Legislature, HB 837, calls for repealing a state law that requires insurers to pay plaintiff’s attorneys fees if they are successfully sued. The law as it now stands protects insured Floridians whose medical claims, often lifesaving, are denied by their health insurance companies, according to attorney Jeff Liggio, partner with Liggio & Cornell in West Palm Beach.
Liggio, who has practiced law in Florida for more than 40 years, has specialized from the start of his career in representing individuals, families, and local small businesses in disputes caused by insurance misconduct. As a former president of the Florida Justice Association, Liggio is bringing to attention to the harm that this this bill could cause.
“We work with hardworking Floridians who pay for health insurance and yet are in dire straits due to disputes with their insurance companies. We’ve had a number of cases in which health or life insurers simply cancel the policy when the insured becomes terminally ill. If this bill becomes law, these people will have no recourse and insurance companies will be emboldened to deny even more medical claims,” said Liggio.
Liggio offered examples of plaintiffs he has represented:
- A young woman in Miami, who needed supplemental oxygen to survive, whose health insurer decided that the supplemental oxygen was too expensive, and it was cheaper for her to suffocate.
- A doctor and his wife in Lake County, whose young son was afflicted with adrenoleukodystrophy, a disease that required thousands and thousands of dollars a year to manage, whose health insurer decided to lower their $1 million annual limit to a $1 million lifetime limit.
- A young paramedic, who is afflicted with an incurable disease, called hypophosphatasia, see: https://softbones.org/ She has top-of-the-line Obamacare health insurance. There is only one medication that helps HPP sufferers, called Strensiq. It is frightfully expensive. Her health insurer refused to authorize Strensiq, she and her physicians appealed while her condition deteriorated, and the insurer only authorized a clinically inadequate dosage. The insurer has refused to authorize other medical needs and expenses.
“These clients, fighting for their lives every day, cannot hire competent lawyers, and pay them an hourly fee, to fight their insurers. Further, if these clients hired their counsel on a contingency percentage basis, they would only recover a percentage of what they need, giving a chunk of any recovery to the lawyers,” said Liggio. “Thank goodness for them, and our present and future clients, Florida has a very strong statute that requires, with few limitations, if they win in court, the insurer must pay their attorney’s fees.”
The bill which, if passed, would repeal that Attorney’s Fees Statute §627.428. That Statute was re-numbered by the Florida Legislature 64 years ago in 1959.
“If the Statute is now repealed, how many folks, in dire, or catastrophic situations due to insurer misconduct, could afford to hire a lawyer, and could anticipate being made whole?” Liggio continued. “There are many lawsuits brought about by commercial entities, primarily in the medical collection area over insignificant amounts. These bad apples are contaminating the system and harming the individuals for which this Statute was established.”
“If the Legislature wants to curb those types of insignificant lawsuits by medical bill collection entities that lead to outsized attorney’s fee awards, there are more limited and focused ways to do so without taking away the benefits provided to Florida citizens, families and small businesses since 1959,” Liggio went on to say.
About Jeff Liggio
Jeffrey M. Liggio is the managing partner at the law firm of Liggio & Cornell, located in West Palm Beach, Florida. He has the legal experience and dedication needed to effectively represent you in your case dispute. Whether it is a case against an insurance company or large corporation, Mr. Liggio has handled it before. Mr. Liggio graduated from the University of Miami School of Law, cum laude, in 1982 and was admitted to the Florida Bar that same year. Prior to law school, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. He is a decorated retired U.S. Air Force Major who served our country as an active Naval Aviator and an Air Force Reserve Command Pilot for 25 years. Mr. Liggio is an experienced trial lawyer. He is admitted to practice in all Florida state courts, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern District of Florida and the Middle District of Florida, and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. In addition, he is a part of a select group of attorneys who have been declared Board Certified Civil Trial Lawyers by the Florida Bar. Mr. Liggio also holds a similar distinction with the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is a proud member and past president of the Florida Justice Association née Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers. He is a former governor of the American Association of Justice. Furthermore, he is also a member of the Palm Beach County Bar Association and the Palm Beach County Justice Association.