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Florida Supreme Court asked to review workers comp constitutionality case

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An advocacy group has petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to review a case that challenges the constitutionality of the state's workers compensation system.

The state Supreme Court has acknowledged the receipt of an appeal filed by Florida Workers' Advocates to review The State of Florida v. Florida Workers' Advocates et al., which questions whether workers comp is an adequate exclusive remedy for injured workers, a spokeswoman for Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal said Tuesday.

In most states, exclusive remedy means workers injured on the job can receive benefits only through the workers comp system, though a liability lawsuit may be allowed in the case of gross employer negligence.

A three-judge panel from Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal in June unanimously reversed Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto's August 2014 ruling. Judge Cueto declared the state's workers compensation system unconstitutional because changes made to it mean it no longer provides “an adequate exclusive replacement remedy” in place of common-law torts, according to court records.

The Florida appeals court judges, however, declined to rule on the constitutionality of exclusive remedy, records show.

The judges said intervening plaintiffs in the case, which included Florida Workers' Advocates, the Workers' Injury Law and Advocacy Group, and Elsa Padgett, an injured Miami-Dade County worker, lacked standing to challenge the constitutionality of the Florida statute that establishes workers comp as exclusive remedy.

The case originally involved injured farm worker Julio Cortes and his employer, Velda Farms L.L.C.