Workers' compensation State laws

Florida AG appeals ruling that declared state workers’ comp law unconstitutional

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Miami – A Florida judge’s recent ruling that called the state’s workers’ compensation law “unlawful, invalid and unconstitutional” is being appealed by the state government’s top lawyer.

Attorney General Pam Bondi on Aug. 26 filed the notice of appeal with the 3rd District Court of Appeals of Florida.

The Aug. 13 ruling from 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida Judge Jorge E. Cueto stems from a provision in the state’s workers’ compensation act that effectively bars many workers from suing their employer for injuries suffered on the job.

The provision, combined with numerous amendments to the act since 1968 that reduce benefits (the most recent of which eliminated benefits for permanent partial disability), results in many injured workers being left with no “reasonable” compensation alternative, Cueto said in his ruling.

This is counter to a state Supreme Court decision that found the act would remain constitutional if it continued to provide some level of compensation for permanent partial disability, Cueto said. “Every injury is capable of producing a partial loss of wage earning capacity, so every injured worker must have the option of accepting workers’ compensation benefits or choosing to sue in tort,” he wrote.

Citing the ongoing litigation, Bondi’s office declined to comment on the case.