Supreme Court to Rule on Workers Comp Constitutionality

The constitutionality of a workers compensation system of a Florida company has circulated through three separate courts since 2010. With each coming to a different conclusion, the Supreme Court is now being requested to intervene to make a final ruling. As the proceedings unravel, it is important to examine your own Orlando Workers Compensation policy and make sure the statutes are fair and in compliance with the law.

The original case involved a lawsuit filed by Julio Cortes who sued his employer Velda Farms due to an injury on the job while operating equipment. After several advocacy groups and a state government worker, Elsa Padgett, joined suit, the case gained more legal traction.

Padgett suffered complications from a workplace injury and was forced to retire. Padgett argued that the workers compensation agreement failed to grant her constitutional access to the legal system for accurate compensation and coverage. However, in 2013, Velda Farms argued that the case was moot and petitioned for the compensation sought after by the advocacy groups, as well as Padgett, be dismissed entirely.

The advocacy groups independently fought their case at the Florida 11th Circuit Court. Judge Jorge Cueto cited the unconstitutionality of the exclusive provision that workers compensation is the single remedy to resolve a claim and ruled in favor of Padgett. Cueto also argued against the 2003 policy that lawmakers created which decreased medical and wage-loss benefits for injured workers. Cueto claimed that this is no longer fair to modern workers in finalizing his decision.

The case was then appealed by the state court and sent to the Third District Court of Appeal shortly after, which ruled that the original intent of the lawsuit had been convoluted. They argued that the plaintiff’s accusations of the inadequacy of the workers compensation system which forced them to forfeit legal representation were now focused on other claims entirely. The justices cited that “the case lost (1) the essential elements of a justiciable “case or controversy,” (2) and identifiable and properly-joined defendant, and (3) a procedurally proper vehicle for the trial court’s assessment of the constitutionality…”

The ruling also included the possibility of the advocacy groups having financial interest in the potential award of the case and therefore assisting in the establishment of filing these claims. Although the partners of the appeals court view this ruling to be a victory for employers and employees, the Supreme Court will now review the case and determine the final ruling.

At Newman Crane, we understand the necessity of workers compensation to protect your employees and your business. Although there are potential risks that can stem from individual cases, we are dedicated to providing superior policies and service to help manage the financial stress of workplace injuries. For more information about our workers compensation offerings, as well as our other business solutions, contact us today at (407) 859-3691.

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