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Florida Supreme Court won't review workers comp system's constitutionality

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Florida's high court will not review a case that questions whether workers compensation is an adequate exclusive remedy for injured workers.

The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to accept jurisdiction of the State of Florida v. Florida Workers' Advocates et al., denying the advocacy group's petition for review.

In June, a three-judge panel from Florida's 3rd District Court of Appeal unanimously reversed Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jorge Cueto's August 2014 ruling in the case. Judge Cueto declared the state's workers comp 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.

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.

However, the Florida appeals court judges declined to rule on the constitutionality of exclusive remedy, saying that 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, records show.

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