After almost four years of litigation, a group of fifteen firefighters and police officers have finally obtained justice following the wrongful termination of their workers’ compensation benefits. Represented by Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, PLLC, the plaintiffs alleged that Pembroke Pines’ workers’ compensation administrator terminated their benefits without any justification other than to cut costs and save money at the expense of their health and welfare.
Under Florida’s “Heart Bill,” when a firefighter or police officer develops certain health impairments, such as heart disease or hypertension, the law presumes that the impairments are work-related and covered under Florida workers’ compensation law.
The Plaintiffs were receiving workers’ compensation benefits for such impairments until the administrator made across-the-board denials of their benefits without legal justification, and despite the fact that many Plaintiffs had been covered for years. The administrator’s actions interfered with the ability of Plaintiffs, all service personnel who had dedicated their lives to protecting the public, to receive medically necessary care.
Adam Langino, counsel for the plaintiffs, said, “The Defendants were accused of putting their financial interests above the medical treatment of fire fighters and police officers who had routinely placed their lives in danger to protect Florida’s citizens by stripping them of medical benefits and inflicting a grave injustice through abuse of power. Righting this wrong is the first step towards granting dutiful workers the respect they have earned for their personal sacrifices.”
On March 19, 2014, a confidential settlement was reached. The lawsuit is one of the first cases of its kind, and, now having prevailed, will hopefully urge others in the industry to properly handle workers’ compensation claims.