Justia Florida Supreme Court Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Labor & Employment Law
Morales v. Zenith Ins. Co.
Santana Morales died while working for Lawns Nursery and Irrigation Designs, Inc. (Lawns). Thereafter, Lawns’ surviving spouse entered into a workers’ compensation settlement agreement with Lawns and Zenith Insurance Company (Zenith), Lawns’ workers’ compensation and employer liability insurance carrier. In a separate wrongful death lawsuit, Morales’ Estate obtained a default judgment against Lawns. Zenith refused to pay the tort judgment, and the Estate sued Zenith under Lawns’ employer liability policy. A federal district court entered summary judgment for Zenith, holding that the policy’s workers’ compensation exclusion barred the Estate’s suit. On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit certified three questions of law to the Supreme Court. The Court answered (1) the Estate had standing to bring direct action against Zenith to recover the judgment against Lawns; (2) the workers’ compensation exclusion barred coverage of the Estate’s tort judgment under the employer liability policy; and (3) a release in the workers’ compensation settlement agreement, through which Mrs. Morales elected the consideration described in the agreement as the sole remedy with respect to the insurance coverage that Zenith provided to Lawns, precluded the Estate from collecting the tort judgment from Zenith. View "Morales v. Zenith Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Parker v. Bd. of Trs.
Petitioner, a retired Tampa firefighter, filed a class action complaint against the Board of Trustees of the City Pension Fund for Firefighters and Police Officers in the City of Tampa (Board), claiming that the Board failed to pay benefits under a firefighter and police officer pension plan established by local law. Parker and the Board agreed to a settlement, which the trial court approved. The trial court subsequently determined that Petitioner and others similarly situated were entitled to reasonable attorneys’ fees. The Second District reversed the court’s decision to require the Board to pay the fees, instead concluding that the attorney’s fees were to be paid from the settlement proceeds. Specifically, the court concluded that the local law plan was “not part of the general statutory construct” of Fla. Stat. 175 and 185. The Supreme Court quashed the Second District’s decision, holding that the prevailing party attorney’s fees provisions of Fla. Stat. 175.061(5) and 185.05(5) are applicable to judicial proceedings to enforce claims under local law plans. View "Parker v. Bd. of Trs." on Justia Law
Delva v. Continental Group, Inc.
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
Scott v. Williams
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
Koren v. Schl. Bd. of Miami-Dade County, et al.
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. View "Koren v. Schl. Bd. of Miami-Dade County, et al." on Justia Law
Kitroser, etc., et al. v. Hurt, et al.
This case arose from a fatal automobile-truck collision. Petitioners, as personal representative of the estate of the deceased and other individuals, filed an action against Airgas, a foreign corporation, and the Airgas employee that drove the truck that struck the deceased. The district court certified the following question: "Where an individual, non-resident defendant commits negligent acts in Florida on behalf of his corporate employer, does the corporate shield doctrine operate as a bar to personal jurisdiction in Florida over the individual defendant?" The court answered the question in the negative and concluded that Airgas employees were subject to the personal jurisdiction of Florida courts pursuant to Florida Statute 48.193. View "Kitroser, etc., et al. v. Hurt, et al." on Justia Law