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A Florida appeals court sided with grocery chain Winn-Dixie Inc. and its workers compensation insurer in a case involving a store employee whose two-decade-old workplace injury led to the surgical removal of her kidney.
The District Court of Appeal of Florida, in a Wednesday decision, determined that a statute of limitations barred Annalie Ortiz from obtaining additional comp benefits to treat an illness that she says was connected to her workplace injury.
Ms. Ortiz was injured in 2003 when she tripped and fell while working at the Winn-Dixie grocery store in Naples. A box she was carrying landed on her right side, and the incident subsequently led to the removal of her right kidney.
After receiving treatment under the comp system for years, Ms. Ortiz was notified in August 2020 that her authorization of care and benefits was being terminated because she didn’t file a petition for additional benefits within the required timeframe.
Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. disputed Ms. Ortiz’s contention that merely seeing her authorized provider during two visits in 2019 and 2020 should have given rise to a presumption that the care was for treatment relating to the work injury.
Evidence showed the physician treated Ms. Ortiz for other issues.
The appeals court said even though the physician was authorized to provide care for the compensable work injury, “furnishing” treatment differs from being authorized to treat a claimant.
A workers comp judge ruled in the company’s favor that the benefits petition was time-barred, and the appeals court agreed, further rejecting the claimant’s argument that visiting a comp-approved doctor was in itself enough to toll the statute of limitations.