Thursday, February 18, 2010

Retroactive Application Of Statute By OIR Reversed

In Coventry First, LLC v. Florida, Office of Insurance Regulation30 So. 3d 552 (Fla. 1st DCA 2010),  the First District held that the trial court erred as a matter of law when it retroactively applied a statute.  The court stated:
“The general rule is that a substantive statute will not operate restrospectively absent clear legislative intent to the contrary, but that a procedural or remedial statute is to operate retrospectively.”  Tracking the constitutional reasoning  used by the United States Supreme Court in Ruckelshaus v. Monsanto Company, 467 U.S. 986, 1001-14 (1984), and Landgraf v. USI Film Products., 511 U.S. 244, 280-86 (1994), the Florida Supreme Court has described the proper  two-pronged analysis  for determining whether an enactment such as the 2007 amendment should have retroactive application.  “The first inquiry is one of statutory construction:  whether there is clear evidence of legislative intent to apply the statute retrospectively.”...“The general rule is that in the absence of clear legislative intent to the contrary, a law affecting substantive rights, liabilities and duties is presumed to apply prospectively.”...“If the legislation clearly expresses an intent that [an act] apply retroactively, then the second inquiry is whether retroactive application is constitutionally permissible.” 
Coventry correctly notes the trial court erred in failing to address and adjudicate this required second prong of the  legal analysis....We do not find the legislative consideration, mandated by law, anywhere in the 2007 amendment. Instead, we conclude that retroactive application of the 2007 amendment improperly deprived Coventry of vested property rights in the continuing confidentiality and exemption of its trade secrets and other work papers already submitted to the OIR pursuant to  the agency’s regulatory duties....We hold that the amendments here at issue are not retroactive as to Coventry’s work papers.
The oral argument in the case can be viewed below.


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