In July 2016, AIF announced the formation of its ‘Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force’ which consists of representatives from small and large Florida businesses, domestic and national insurance carriers, as well as health care providers and injured workers. The intent of this group is to consider all aspects of the Workers' Compensation Act in Florida and find solutions to restore a stable, self-executing and affordable workers’ compensation system in Florida, just as the Florida Legislature intended.
The ruling by the Florida Supreme Court in 2016 on the Castellanos v. Next Door Company case mandated an unconstitutional attorney fee schedule that invalidates cost-saving attorney fee caps under the Workers’ Compensation law, which resulted in a significant blow to Florida’s employers. This decision has triggered a substantial and hefty rate increase for which employers have not prepared or budgeted. As history has shown us, this decision will spark an avalanche of increased and unbridled litigation which will continue to be a leading cost-driver to the system in the future and a major disruption to the economic success we have worked so many years to achieve.
To the point, The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) requested the state to approve a 17.1 percent hike in the Florida’s Workers’ Compensation rates. The result was a 14.5 percent rate increase in December 2016, which was largely in response to the Castellanos judicial ruling explained above. Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) views rate increases as a threat to Florida’s continued economic growth and warns that the financial impact of increased litigation and attorney fees will quickly tarnish the state’s successful business climate.
The main goals of the AIF’s Florida Workers’ Compensation Strategic Task Force are to make recommendations to the Legislature to provide for immediate relief of the pressure on increasing insurance rates, while simultaneously pursuing optimal policies that will protect injured workers and assess the insurmountable attorney fees issue.
Below you will see the leaders of this crucial Task Force.
Tom C. Feeney - Before joining AIF in 2011 as the President & CEO, Tom represented the 24th Congressional District of Florida for 6 years. He served in the Florida House of Representatives for 10 years, during which he was elected Speaker of the Florida House. In 1994, he was former Governor Jeb Bush’s running mate in his first race for governor. In addition to public office, Tom has also maintained a successful private law practice. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of several statewide organizations. Tom has a BA in Political Science from Penn State University and JD from the University of Pittsburgh.
Brewster B. Bevis - As the Senior Vice President of State and Federal Affairs, Brewster coordinates AIF’s lobbying team and all research and advocacy efforts in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. Prior to joining AIF, he served as Senior Director of Legislative Affairs for the National Association of Builders & Contractors, was a former Presidential Appointee during the George W. Bush administration, and worked in Congress. Brewster received his BS in International Affairs from Florida State University.
Jim McConnaughhay - A founding partner of McConnaughhay, Coonrod, Pope, Weaver & Stern, P.A., concentrates his practice in workers’ compensation and administrative law. A Florida Board Certified workers’ compensation lawyer, Jim has actively practiced since his admission to the Florida Bar in 1969. His clients include national insurers as well as employers of every size. His administrative law experience primarily deals with the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation and the Office of Insurance Regulation including but not limited to issues relating to rule promulgation, excess profits determinations, and insurance company regulatory activities. Jim has authored “Defending Workers’ Compensation Cases” for the Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education Handbook and the annually updated Florida Workers’ Compensation Desk Manual. He was the author of the 1989 Governor’s Task Force Report on Workers’ Compensation and the 1990 Oversight Board Report. He served as consultant for the 2003 systemic changes in the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law, and has been an Adjunct Professor of Workers’ Compensation Law for the Florida State University College of Law. Jim was named one of Florida Trend’s Florida Legal Elite 2004 for the area of Workers’ Compensation and currently serves as chair of numerous national and state Boards.
Representing Small Employers
Bill Herrle, National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB)
Bill Herrle is the Florida Executive Director for the National Federation of Independent Business, Florida’s and the nation’s leading small-business advocacy group. He manages NFIB’s state operations in Florida to include its lobbying, member support, and statewide political and media functions.
Previously the Florida State Director of NFIB from 1990-2001, Bill rejoined NFIB in March 2007. From 2001-07, he served as vice president of governmental affairs and political action for the Florida Retail Federation, where he lobbied effectively and successfully grew their political efforts.
Bill is a recognized leader in Tallahassee with a highly impressive track record. Before his work at the Retail Federation and NFIB, he served as communications director for Florida Association of the American Institute of Architects and account manager for Executive Management Services, an association management and lobbying firm. Bill is a graduate of Penn State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science.
Representing Large Employers
Marc Salm, Publix Supermarkets
Marc Salm is the Vice President of Risk Management for Publix Super Markets, based in Lakeland, Florida.
Marc is responsible for customer claims and litigation, workers’ compensation, corporate insurance, risk mitigation and risk transfer programs. This includes overseeing the management of all workers’ compensation and liability claims and all customer and consumer lawsuits brought against Publix. As part of his duties, Marc oversees the performance of the Publix’s self-administered Workers Compensation and Liability Claims units which administers claims and litigation, provides Nurse Case Management and performs medical and legal bill review in Publix’s six Southeastern States.
Marc has worked for Publix since 1997. Prior to working in Risk Management, Marc was Publix’s chief HR Counsel and before that practiced law in Atlanta Georgia. Marc was educated at the University of Michigan and Emory University School of Law.
Representing Domestic Insurance Carriers
Tom Koval, FCCI Insurance Group
Tom Koval has been with FCCI Insurance Group since 1997 and currently holds the position of Executive Vice President and Chief Legal Officer. FCCI Insurance Group is a Florida domestic property and casualty insurance group selling commercial insurance products, including workers’ compensation coverage.
Prior to joining FCCI he was a shareholder in the law firm of Moss, Henderson, Blanton, Koval & Lanier in Vero Beach, Florida. He has also served as staff attorney for the Division of Workers’ Compensation from 1977 to 1979.
Tom serves on numerous Boards, and is also active in insurance-related issues and committees in the 18 states in which FCCI sells insurance products by serving on regulatory and legislative committees. He received his B.A. in History from Loyola University and his J.D. from Loyola University School of Law.
Representing National Insurance Carriers
Jeff Fenster, AmTrust Financial Services
Jeffrey R. Fenster is Vice President at AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. AmTrust is a publicly traded (Nasdaq: AFSI) Commercial Property and Casualty Insurance Holding Company writing over $6 billion in premium worldwide in 2015. At AmTrust, Jeff works on the corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions team.
From 2010 until the spring of 2014, Jeff served as Executive Director of the New York State Workers’ Compensation Board. As Executive Director, he was responsible for regulation of the second largest workers’ compensation system in the country. Prior to joining the Workers’ Compensation Board, Jeff was a litigation associate with the New York law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, LLP. He received his Bachelor’s Degree and Juris Doctorate from the University of Michigan.
Representing Health Care Providers
Michael Costello, Tenet Healthcare
Michael Costello is the Regional Director for Tenet Healthcare Corporation, a multinational investor-owned healthcare services company based in Dallas, Texas.
Joining Tenet South Florida division in 2014, Michael oversees the Workers’ Compensation Business Development Division. He is responsible for continual development and maintenance of a workers’ compensation service offering. The service offering enables claim handlers to efficiently manage claims, align specialty physicians including ancillary services in a cost effective manner. The Tenet Workers’ Compensation program will surpass 20,000 coordinated medical cases this year under Michael’s direction.
Prior to joining Tenet, Michael was the Executive Director of Operations at MSC (now One Call Care Management) and Regional Sales Director with O.C.C.M. Additionally, Michael served as a managing partner with Outback Steakhouse. Michael holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Niagara University, New York.
Representing Injured Workers
Jim Tolley, Florida Professional Firefighters
Jim is the current President of the Florida Professional Firefighters (FPF), a state charter of the International Association of Fire Fighters. Formed in 1944, the primary objective of the FPF is to be a governmental relations advocate, and conduct a year-round legislative and lobbying program in Florida’s State Capitol.
Jim has a long history of experience with the City of Melbourne Fire Department. Promoted up through the ranks, he also held officer positions at the Melbourne Firefighter Association Local 1951 and eventually with the FPF beginning in 1991. Jim has received numerous awards and expands his civic involvement by serving on several Boards. Jim continues to serve his community as a professional firefighter with the City of Melbourne.
At-Large: Representing Injured Workers
Matt Puckett, Florida Police Benevolent Association
Matt is the Executive Director and Chief Lobbyist of the Florida Police Benevolent Association. The association provides labor, legal and legislative services to over 24,000 law enforcement officers in the state of Florida.
Prior to serving in his current position, he served as the Deputy Executive Director and a staff lobbyist for the association. He has been employed with the PBA for 17 years.
He is a graduate of Florida State University and served four years in the United States Army.