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PIP wars heating up, in court this time

 The PIP wars are back on.

After a lengthy legislative battle over Florida’s 2012 personal injury protection auto insurance reform, stakeholders are battling it out in court over whether HB 119 went too far.

Acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors scored a win earlier this week when a circuit court judge placed a temporary ban on the part of the law that restricted them from receiving payment for treating auto accident patients. The judge also put a hold on the part of the law that reduced maximum PIP payouts from $10,000 to $2,500 in non-emergency cases, saying it was likely unconstitutional.

Gov. Rick Scott, who backed the law, immediately filed an appeal—which effectively halted the injunction, leaving the status quo in place while the court challenge plays out.

On Friday, the acupuncturists, massage therapists and chiropractors filed a motion to vacate the stay on the injunction, another legal maneuver to strike down parts of the law. 

In the motion, they said the “stay works an injustice on the Plaintiffs and the citizens of Florida and should be vacated for compelling circumstances.”

The plaintiffs argued that more harm would be done to them by continuing with the status quo than would be done to the state if the injunction went into effect. 

They also took a shot at the broader PIP law, which lawmakers passed hoping to reduce the cost of auto insurance. Costs have gone up in some cases, though the state argues that the rise has been slower than previous years and many drivers have seen decreases. 

“This ‘legislative predicate’ may have sounded encouraging when initially asserted, but the fact is that PIP insurance rates actually increased since the enactment of the 2012 PIP Act,” the plaintiffs wrote in their motion. 

The dueling motions indicate that the PIP law passed last year is in for a lengthy bout of litigation. 

Scott said he continues to believe the law was the right move, and will fight for it. 

“Our reforms are working to lower insurance costs for Florida families and we will continue to fight special interest groups to keep them in place,” he said in a statement.