Court voids its workers’ comp rules Gary Blankenship Senior Editor The Supreme Court has declined to adopt proposed amendments for workers’ compensation procedural rules, saying constitutionally the court does not have — and never has had — authority to promulgate such rules.The December 2 opinion settled a dispute about whether the court or the Division of Administrative Hearings, which oversees the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims, is in charge of procedural rules for workers’ compensation cases.The court came down definitively on the side of DOAH, even receding from a 1973 decision it made and finding a state law invalid where the legislature gave the court authority to promulgate the rules.The rules issue arose after DOAH last year set out its own procedural rules, citing a 1993 state law that gave it that authority. The rules committee proceeded with its biennial rules review of the court-approved rules. It and the Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section said a 1974 law as well as the court’s 1973 ruling in In Re: Workmen’s Compensation Rules of Procedure, 285 So. 2d 601 (Fla. 1973), gave the court authority over the rules.“[The ruling] will help get things to settle down a little bit, without the cloud of controversy settling over us,” said Judge S. Scott Stephens, the compensation judge who last year prepared the DOAH-approved rules. “It’s very important for the attorneys to know what to expect procedurally.”DOAH has already set up a 14-person committee to review and refine its rules, Stephens said, and it includes members from the Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section, compensation judges, and lawyers who represent the plaintiffs and defense bar. The panel held its first meeting on December 8.“Our goal is to have rules of procedure that are tolerable for everybody and apply to everybody across the state,” he said.Stephens said he doesn’t think the transition to the DOAH rules will be difficult because compensation judges, as far as he knows, have been using the agency rules since February 2003. He also noted that the court made its ruling prospective only, which will prevent reopening old cases because of procedural questions.Representatives from the Rules of Workers’ Compensation Committee and the Bar’s Workers’ Compensation Section said they were disappointed with the decision, but expect to work well with DOAH on maintaining the new rules.Committee Chair Jeff Jacobs noted that former Justice Arthur England, in a case subsequent to the 1973 ruling, wrote a dissent that was essentially adopted by the court in its new opinion.“His dissent was always regarded as well reasoned and judicially sound,” Jacobs said. “It was important for the Supreme Court to decide the conflict [over the rules] and they decided. The decision was welcomed in that regard. It was disappointing that the courts after 31 years receded from its earlier opinion.”He added, “We’re confident that the Division of Administrative Hearings and the Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims will write a proper set of rules and the system will carry on.”Nancy Cavey, chair of the Workers’ Compensation Section, said, “While we disagree and are disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision, we reluctantly accept the same. We look forward to working with Chief Judge Robert Cohen and Deputy Chief Judge Scott Stephens of DOAH in promulgating rules of workers’ compensation procedure that will provide for fair and expeditious resolution of workers’ compensation cases.”The Supreme Court’s per curiam opinion noted that the Florida Constitution vests the Supreme Court with the power to write procedural rules for all courts of the state, and the constitution further defines those courts as the Supreme Court, the district courts of appeal, and the circuit and county courts. “The Office of the Judges of Compensation Claims (OJCC) is not a court of this state because it is neither the Supreme Court, a district court of appeal, a circuit court, nor a county court,” the opinion said.In earlier rulings, the justices have held the workers’ comp proceedings are only quasi-judicial and that judges of compensation claims are members of the executive branch, not the judiciary.“Given that the OJCC is not an Article V court, but rather part of an executive department, we find that this court has no authority under the Florida Constitution, nor has this court ever had the constitutional authority to promulgate rules of practice and procedure for this executive entity. We recede from the decision in In re Florida Workmen’s Compensation Rules of Procedure. . . to the extent that that case and all subsequent cases conclude that this court had jurisdiction to promulgate such rules. We conclude that this court must be removed from this rulemaking process, and the rules this court has adopted must be repealed as unauthorized under the Florida Constitution.”Further, since the OJCC is part of the executive branch, the legislature is without power to give the court authority to write such rules, because that would violate the separation of powers doctrine, the opinion said.“In conclusion, the Workers’ Compensation Rules of Procedure constitute an unconstitutional encroachment on the power of the executive branch to adopt rules of procedure for its own agencies,” the court said, “Accordingly, we hereby repeal this body of rules, effective immediately. In order to ensure that our actions today do not create an upheaval of decades of workers’ compensation law, we hold that our repeal of the Florida Rules of Workers’ Compensation shall operate prospectively, and shall not affect any workers’ compensation proceedings that are final.”The court ruled in Amendments to the Florida Rules of Workers’ Compensation Procedure, case no. SC04-110. The complete text of the opinion can be found at the courts Web site, www.floridasupremecourt.org. The ruling was unanimous, although Justice Fred Lewis concurred in the result only. December 15, 2004 Senior Editor Regular News Court voids its workers’ comp rules
More than half the country’s confirmed cases have been in Santa Cruz, an eastern province where authorities said stay-at-home appeals have not been heeded.The country was under a national shutdown over the weekend, for the first time. From Monday to Friday, only one person per family is permitted to circulate to buy groceries or other supplies. Topics : A 78-year-old woman on Sunday became the first person to die of the new coronavirus in Bolivia, which has reported 81 confirmed cases, the government announced.Health Minister Anibal Cruz told reporters the woman, who was hospitalized in the department of Santa Cruz, had been in stable condition.”During the night she grew worse, and was transferred to intensive care. She died this morning,” he said.
A number of incidents from last weekend’s Barclays Premier League fixtures brought the topic of simulation back to the fore once again. And three of those involved Chelsea players going to ground in their 2-0 home win over Hull, with Willian and Diego Costa being booked for diving either side of Gary Cahill apparently throwing himself to the turf but going unpunished. Press Association “So it is about getting the right decisions from referees, although it is not easy for them to deal with. “I think more and more these days there is more skill in it, with players prepared to go down to gain an advantage even when there has been absolutely no contact whatsoever – that is incorrect, and should not happen. “There is a grey area in terms of players having contact and players just going down without any, so that is what needs stamping out.” Meanwhile, Potters midfielder Glenn Whelan has indicated he wants to stay with Stoke for the rest of his career. Whelan, with the club since 2008, is out of contract next summer and Hughes said on Thursday that an offer of a new deal has been made to the Republic of Ireland international which he is yet to respond to. Quoted by The Sentinel on Friday, Whelan, who last started a Stoke game in early October, said: “I will be just keeping my head down and working as hard as I can to get back in the team, and see where it takes me. “That has done all right for me since I’ve been at Stoke so I’m sure I’ll be okay come the end of the season. “I would definitely like to stay. I have always enjoyed coming in for training and pulling on the red and white jersey. That’s no different now. “It’s difficult because I’m not in the team at the moment. I haven’t actually sat down with the manager or anyone on the board, so where the stories have come from of late I’m not sure. They haven’t come from me. “If we can get something sorted out, it’s not me wanting to leave. For as long as I still have a chance of playing I’ll be doing all I can to spend the rest of my career here.” Tigers boss Steve Bruce described the Cahill incident as being ”like something out of Swan Lake”. But when Hughes, whose 12th-placed team are table-topping Chelsea’s next league opponents, was asked ahead of that meeting if he thought the Blues were particularly guilty of diving, he said: “No – they are no worse than anyone else in my view.” Speaking at his press conference ahead of Monday’s clash at the Britannia Stadium, ex-Chelsea striker Hughes admitted referees currently have a tough task on their hands trying to distinguish between incidents where a “soft” foul has been committed and where there has been no contact, with a player going down deliberately. At the same time, though, the Welshman – who in October defended Victor Moses, the winger on loan at Stoke from Chelsea, amid accusations he dived in a victory over Swansea – does not regard simulation as “a problem right through the game”. Hughes said of the diving debate sparked by last weekend’s incidents: “There is a focus almost every week, and more often than not it changes from one week to the next. “An incident in a game will be highlighted and people will surmise there is a problem right through the game, but I don’t think that is the case. “I think there will always be players maybe anticipating tackles coming in, and when a defender doesn’t, then that can lead to embarrassing situations for the people involved because it looks like they are trying to gain an advantage. “It is important that if somebody is fouled, the right decision is made, even if it is a soft foul – a correct decision is a foul, or a penalty. That is not simulation in my view. Stoke manager Mark Hughes feels Chelsea are no worse offenders than any other side when it comes to diving.