Workers Compensation Lawsuit May Go To Florida Supreme CourtJuly 17, 2015
A workers compensation lawsuit alleging that the Florida’s worker protection statutes are unconstitutional may be heard in the state’s supreme court next year. Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals ruled last month that the plaintiffs lacked the legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s workers compensation laws. The appeals court refused to hear the case based on procedural issues. The plaintiffs filed a request earlier this month to have the case heard by the Florida Supreme Court.
Details of the Workers Compensation Lawsuit
The constitutional challenge posed by the workers compensation lawsuit started when Julio Cortes, a worker at Velda Farms, was injured n 2010. In 2012, a state government worker named Elsa Padgett also joined the workers compensation lawsuit after she was injured on the job. The suit alleges that the state’s laws prohibit them from seeking legal remedies through the courts when their employer-sponsored workers compensation benefits fail to provide adequate funds to injured workers.
Workers Compensation Lawsuit Highlights Reforms
Attorneys in the workers compensation lawsuit point to reforms the state made to its benefits programs in 2003. Florida Eleventh Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto agreed, stating that the 2003 law “no longer provides full medical benefits or any compensation for permanent partial disability.” Judge Cueto also wrote that the current system “is inadequate as an exclusive remedy for all injured workers.” Attorneys for the state appealed Judge Cueto’s ruling on the workers compensation lawsuit.
Appeals Court Refuses to Hear Workers Compensation Lawsuit
The three-judge panel in the workers compensation lawsuit refused to hear the case based on the nature of the complaint. The judges wrote that the plaintiff’s original claims included that the program no longer offered sufficient benefits to workers injured on the job. They also wrote that the intent of the case workers compensation lawsuit had changed as the case moved through the courts. The opinion stated that the case had lost “a procedurally proper vehicle for the trial court’s assessment of the constitutionality.”
Workers Compensation Lawsuit and “Exclusive Remedy”
A major point of contention in the Florida workers compensation lawsuit stems from the “exclusive remedy” clause. The clause prohibits employees from pursuing legal action against employers for work-related injuries covered under the state workers compensation program. However, budget cuts to the program enacted since 2003 have limited the state’s ability to cover those expenses. The workers compensation lawsuit maintains that the workers affected by these cuts should have the option to sue their employers, rather than depend on ever-shrinkling workers compensation benefits as an “exclusive remedy” for their injuries.
Source: Insurance Journal