Florida’s First District Remands Workers’ Compensation Case for Reconsideration of Injured Woman’s Statutory Employee Status

In Mitchell v. Osceola County School Board, a Florida woman was working at a veterinary clinic that was being hosted by a non-profit organization and held at an Osceola County high school. While assisting at the clinic, the woman allegedly suffered an injury when she was bitten by a dog. After the incident, the woman filed multiple workers’ compensation benefits claims against both the non-profit organization that employed her and the school board. Eventually, the woman dismissed her claims against the non-profit organization because the group did not carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage.

At a hearing before a Judge of Compensation Claims (“JCC”) the woman argued there was an employer-employee relationship between herself and the school board. In support of her claim, the woman stated the board was her statutory employer under the plain language of Section 440.10(1)(b) of the Florida Statutes. After the JCC rejected the woman’s assertion that she was a school board employee under the law, she filed an appeal with Florida’s First District.

On appeal, the court found that a business partnership clearly existed between the school board and the non-profit organization. Through the organization, students obtained clinical hours while observing and assisting with low-cost veterinary services advertised and provided to the public. Additionally, the court stated program pamphlets informed the public about the students’ involvement in the veterinary clinic.

Next, the appellate court addressed the JCC’s ruling that the woman was not a statutory employee of the school board under Section 440.10(1)(b) because no formal contract was offered to show the non-profit sublet the premises from the school board in order to provide services to a third party. The appeals court stated such a contract may be implied or “arise from an offer contained in an advertisement” such as the informational pamphlets.

After that, the court examined relevant case law before holding that the JCC failed to provide sufficient legal analysis when he found that the woman was not a statutory employee of the school board. Because there was evidence to suggest a contract may have been formed between the school board and the non-profit organization, the First District stated it was unclear whether the JCC applied the appropriate standard when reaching his conclusion. As a result, the appellate court reversed the JCC’s decision and remanded the case for his reconsideration.

If you or someone you love was hurt in a Florida workplace accident, you should speak with a knowledgeable workers’ compensation lawyer as soon as you are able. To discuss your right to receive financial compensation with a veteran Miami personal injury attorney, please give the knowledgeable advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. a call today at (305) 448-8585 or contact us through our website.

Additional Resources:

Mitchell v. Osceola County School Board, Fla: Dist. Court of Appeals, 1st Dist. 2015

More Blog Posts:

Appeals Court Rules on Attendant Care Payments in Florida Workers’ Compensation Case, March 11, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

Florida’s Second District Overturns Punitive Damages Award Where Evidence Did Not Demonstrate a Reckless Disregard for Human Life, March 9, 2015, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog

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