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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Florida Businesses, Insurers to Fight Ruling Overturning Workers’ Comp System

The battle lines are being drawn in the State of Florida as the challenge to the FL workers' compensation law continues following a judicial ruling that the act was unconstitutional because it has been emasculated by Industry reform and its effectiveness diminished to point of rendering the act void.
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A Florida circuit court judge has ruled that the state’s workers’ compensation law is unconstitutional because it no longer provides adequate benefits to injured workers giving up their right to sue.
Florida 11th Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto handed down the ruling in a case (Padgett v. State of Florida No. 11-13661 CA 25) that could upend the state’s nearly 80-year workers’ compensation law.
The case has its genesis in a 2012 instance where a state government worker, Elsa Padgett, sustained an on-the-job injury. After a fall, Padgett had to have a shoulder surgically replaced and was forced to retire due to complications.
Padgett, along with several trial bar groups, argued that her workers’ compensation benefits were inadequate and the law unfairly blocked her constitutional right to access the court.
The workers’ compensation system is by law the “exclusive remedy” for injured workers. Injured workers are provided medical benefits and certain wage-loss benefits in exchange for forgoing the right to sue their employer in court.
Cueto, in a 20-page ruling, avoided making any specific comments on the details of Padgett’s case other than to rule in her favor.
Instead, Cueto focused on the exclusive remedy provision of the law, finding that due to the many cuts in medical and wage-loss benefits made by lawmakers over the years, the system no longer represents a fair deal for injured workers.
Cueto singled-out workers’...
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