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Fla. appeals court lifts temporary ban on auto law

•  National News     updated  2013/10/25 13:10


A Florida appeals court on Wednesday cleared the way for the enforcement of a controversial auto insurance law that backers say was designed to curb fraudulent claims.

The 1st District Court of Appeal ruled that Tallahassee Circuit Judge Terry Lewis was wrong when he sided with physical therapists and other health care providers challenging the 2012 law.

In March, Lewis ruled that modifications to some of the key provisions of Florida's no-fault auto insurance law were possibly unconstitutional, and he ordered a temporary ban on those provisions.

Lewis suspended the part of the law that requires a finding of emergency medical condition and prohibits payments to acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors. He said the law violates the right of access to the courts found in the Florida Constitution.

But the appeals court contended that those seeking to block enforcement of the law had not shown they were actually being harmed by it.

"Without showing of an actual denial of access to courts ... the provider plaintiffs lack standing to assert this claim," states the unsigned opinion.

The ruling, however, does not end the ongoing lawsuit challenging the new law.

Florida legislators passed the state's no-fault insurance law — also known as Personal Injury Protection — in the early 1970s to ensure that anyone hurt in an automobile wreck could obtain medical treatment without delay, while waiting for a case to be resolved.

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