Another Challenge to Chapter 440 Arguing that it is Unconstitutional
Based on the written opinion in the recent case of Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital and Sedgwick CMS, (Case No. 1D14-3077 March 25, 2015), we can expect that there will be a constitutional challenge raised in the Florida Supreme Court. In this case, the First District Court of Appeal issued a written opinion based on the Appellant’s Motion for Written Opinion. The Claimant/Appellant challenged the 1994 version of the stature requiring a $10.00 co-payment after reaching maximum medical improvement as unconstitutional. In addition, the Claimant/Appellant also challenged the elimination of Permanent Partial Disability (PPD). The argument was that the requirement to pay the $10.00 co-payment and the elimination of the PPD, makes the Workers’ Compensation Law an inadequate exclusive remedy for a tort action. The First District Court of Appeal rejected such argument and it analyzed the constitutionality of the statute using a rational basis test. The First District Court of Appeal found that there was a rational basis to require the $10.00 co-pay as the copay provision furthers the legitimate stated purpose of ensuring reasonable medical costs. In addition, the Court found that the PPD benefits were supplanted by Impairment Income Benefits and thus the elimination of such benefits also met the rational basis test. Given the constitutional challenge, I suspect the Claimant/Appellant will ask for review in the Florida Supreme Court. Note that the opinion is not final until after period expires to file Motion for Rehearing.