Articles Posted in Florida Supreme Court

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At issue in this case was a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between the union that represented officers employed by the City of Miami’s police department (the Union) and the City of Miami (the City). After the City declared a “financial urgency” in 2010, the City notified the Union that it intended to implement changes to the CBA. When the parties were unable to come to an agreement, the City’s legislative body voted to unilaterally alter the terms of the CBA and adopted changes regarding wages, pension benefits, and other economic terms of employment. The Union filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge with the Public Employees Relations Commission (PERC), arguing that the City acted improperly by unilaterally changing the CBA before completing the impasse resolution process provided for in Fla. Stat. 447.4095. PERC dismissed the Union’s ULP charge. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision, holding (1) an employer must demonstrate that funds are available from no other possible reasonable source before unilaterally modifying a CBA; and (2) modification can only be made after completing the impasse resolution process set forth in section 447.4095. View "Headley v. City of Miami" on Justia Law

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In 2010, a final judgment was entered awarding Lyantie Townsend compensatory damages and punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. The judgment also awarded post-judgment interest. In 2012, an amended final judgment was entered awarding compensatory and punitive damages and ordering that the total sum would “bear interest as provided by law” from April 29, 2010. In 2014, R.J. Reynolds filed a motion to determine the rate of interest payable on the amended final judgment, contending that a 2011 amendment to Fla. Stat. 55.03(3) governed the accrual of interest on the judgment after the amended statute became effective. The trial court denied the motion. The First District Court of Appeal reversed, concluding that the 2011 amendment applied to the judgment. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision, holding that the 2011 amendment to section 55.03(3) does not apply to a judgment entered between October 1998 and June 30, 2011. View "Townsend v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co." on Justia Law

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In 2009, Bradley Westphal suffered a severe work-related injury. The City of St. Petersburg provided temporary total disability benefits pursuant to Fla. Stat. 440.15(2). Westphal did not reach maximum medical improvement prior to the expiration of the 104-week limitation on temporary total disability benefits and thus filed a petition for benefits pursuant to Fa. Stat. 440.15(1). The Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) denied Westphal’s claim, thus leaving Westphal totally disabled at the cessation of temporary total disability benefits but not yet entitled to permanent total disability benefits because he could not prove he would still be totally disabled when he reached maximum medical improvement. Westphal appealed, arguing that section 440.15(2) was unconstitutional. The First District Court of Appeal “valiantly attempted to save the statute from unconstitutionality” by interpreting it so that Westphal would not be cut off from compensation after 104 weeks. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision, holding that section 440.15(2)(a) is unconstitutional as applied to Westphal and all others similarly situated as a denial of access to courts under article I, section 21 of the Florida Constitution. View "Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg" on Justia Law

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This workers’ compensation case involved the statutory attorney’s fees provision declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Castellanos v. Next Door Co. Pursuant to the fee schedule in Fla. Stat. 440.34, the judge of compensation claims was constrained to award the claimant’s attorney $19.44 per hour for 90 hours of work. The First District Court of Appeal was compelled to affirm the $1,750 statutory fee award. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision and remanded for further proceedings consistent with Castellanos, which held that the conclusive statutory fee schedule is unconstitutional as a denial of due process under both the Florida and United States Constitutions. View "Richardson v. Aramark/Sedgwick CMS" on Justia Law

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This workers’ compensation case involved the statutory attorney’s fees provision declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Castellanos v. Next Door Co. Pursuant to the fee schedule in Fla. Stat. 440.34, the judge of compensation claims was constrained to award the claimant’s attorney $13.28 per hour for 120 hours of work, over twenty-five times less than the $350 hourly rate found to be a reasonable fee. The First District Court of Appeal was compelled to affirm the fee. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision and remanded for further proceedings consistent with Castellanos, which held that the conclusive statutory fee schedule is unconstitutional as a denial of due process under both the Florida and United States Constitutions. View "Diaz v. Palmetto Gen. Hosp." on Justia Law

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This workers’ compensation case involved the statutory attorney’s fees provision declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Castellanos v. Next Door Co. Pursuant to the fee schedule in Fla. Stat. 440.34, the judge of compensation claims awarded the claimant's attorney a total of $13,017 in attorney’s fees, to be split by three attorneys, for a fee award of $50.44 per hour. The attorney for the employer/carrier, however, was paid more than $50,000. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the statutory fee award. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision, concluding that the holding in Castellanos resolves this issue. Remanded. View "Pfeffer v. Labor Ready Southeast, Inc." on Justia Law

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Petitioner, who was injured in the course of his employment with Respondent, prevailed in his workers’ compensation claim through the assistance of his attorney. The fee awarded to Petitioner’s attorney amounted to only $1.53 per hour. Petitioner had no ability to challenge the reasonableness of the hourly rate, and both the Judge of Compensation Claims and First District Court of Appeal were precluded by Fla. Stat. 440.34, which mandates a conclusive fee schedule for awarding attorney’s fees to the claimant in a workers’ compensation case, from assessing whether the fee award was reasonable. The First Circuit certified a question to the Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of section 440.34, which creates an irrebuttable presumption that precludes any consideration of whether the fee award is reasonable to compensate the attorney. The Supreme Court held that the mandatory fee schedule in section 440.34 is unconstitutional under as a violation of due process under both the state and federal Constitutions. Remanded for entry of a reasonable attorney’s fee. View "Castellanos v. Next Door Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Defendant, her former employer, alleging that Defendant took adverse employment actions against her after she revealed that she was pregnant. The trial court dismissed Plaintiff’s lawsuit for failure to state a cause of action. The court of appeal affirmed, concluding that Florida law does not prohibit pregnancy discrimination in employment practices. The Supreme Court quashed the court of appeal’s decision and remanded with directions that the trial court reinstate Plaintiff’s complaint, holding that the provision in the Florida Civil Rights Act (FCRA) making it an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate based on an individual’s sex includes discrimination based on pregnancy, which is “a natural condition and primary characteristic unique to the female sex.” View "Delva v. Continental Group, Inc. " on Justia Law

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At issue in this case was the constitutionality of certain provisions of chapter 2011-68, Laws of Florida, which converted the Florida Retirement System (FRS) from noncontributory by employees to contributory, required all current FRS members to contribute three percent of their salaries to the retirement system, and eliminated the retirement cost-of-living adjustment for creditable service after the effective date of the act. The circuit court held that the challenged amendments were unconstitutional, where the amendments violated three provisions of the Florida Constitution, and ordered Appellants - the governor, state board of administration, and the secretary of the department of management services - to reimburse all funds deducted or withheld pursuant to chapter 2011-68 from the compensation or cost-of-living adjustments of employees who were members of the FRS prior to the effective date of the act. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the legislature did not violate the Florida Constitution in enacting the challenged provisions of chapter 2011-68. View "Scott v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Petitioner sought review of the Third District's summary dismissals of his unfair labor practice (ULP) claim. The court concluded that because it found that the actions alleged in petitioner's claim were sufficient to establish a prima facie violation of Florida Statute 447.501, the court concluded that the Third District incorrectly affirmed the Public Employees Relations Commission's dismissal of petitioner's charges; the totality of the circumstances alleged in petitioner's charge were sufficient to demonstrate prima facie evidence that he suffered from an adverse employment action; petitioner's allegations regarding his transfer provided sufficient evidence of adverse employment action to survive summary dismissal; and petitioner sufficiently alleged a causal link between the protected activity and the adverse employment action.