Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - June 2, 2015
June 2, 2015 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #10

Larry Jackson v. Manatee County Sheriff's Office; workers' compensation claim; JCC #14009225 DBB


Contact and/or Presenter Information
JoAnn Gallo, Claims Adjuster, extension 3750

Action Requested
Motion to approve the settlement of the claim on a controverted basis, whereby the Manatee County's Sheriff's Office will waive its attorney's fees and costs claims under Section 440.34(3), Florida Statutes. 

Enabling/Regulating Authority
Chapter 440, Florida Statutes, and Manatee County Ordinance No. 08-49.

Background Discussion

Larry Jackson, the claimant, is a deputy with the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.  He was injured in a motor vehicle accident on 2/5/2014.  On that date, Deputy Jackson was engaged in an off duty assignment, for Nationwide Insurance.  The job involved a photo shoot while directing traffic.
Deputy Jackson was parked on the side of the road, in a patrol vehicle, in uniform when he was rear-ended by a van.  He suffered injuries to his neck and low back, which required neck surgery, and he was taken out of work.  Once fully recovered, he returned to work and continues to be employed with the Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Jackson sought workers' compensation coverage for his accident from Nationwide and the Manatee County Sheriff's Office.  Manatee County Government, of course, investigates, adjusts and litigates workers' compensation claims emanating from the Sheriff's office.

Both employers denied the claim, stating that neither was the statutory employer at the time of the accident. Consequently, Deputy Jackson retained counsel and filed Petitions for Benefits with the Judge of Compensation Claims.  The determination of the responsible party would be based upon the interpretation of  Section 30.2905(2)(b)(1), Florida Statutes, which states, as regards a deputy sheriff engaged in off-duty assignments, " A deputy sheriff so employed who sustains an injury while enforcing the criminal, traffic, or penal laws of this state shall be regarded as working on duty."

Over the past year, outside counsel has been preparing for final hearing on this case.  Recently, he was contacted by claimant's counsel and was informed that her client, Deputy Jackson, entered into a settlement agreement with Nationwide, on a controverted basis.  Claimant's counsel inquired as to whether the County was also interested in entering into the agreement.

The County cannot provide any monies toward the settlement because the claimant is still employed. However, the County has prepared its own settlement documents agreeing to waive its right to reimbursement costs from Deputy Jackson under Florida Statute Section 440.34(3) in the amount of $4,879.63, in exchange for Deputy Jackson's dismissal of the workers' compensation claim against the County.  In addition, the agreement contains the County's waiver of its claim for reimbursement of  attorney's fees and costs ($38,532.60) from Nationwide Insurance.

The County cannot recover those fees or costs unless it prevails at final hearing, and there is no certainty as to how the Judge might interpret the above referenced statute in light of the operative facts.  An unfavorable decision for the employer would result in an obligation to pay for all benefits due from the accident as well as fees and costs to Deputy Jackson's attorney.  The value of the past and future benefits is estimated at $200,000.

It is in the County's best interest to settle the claim, thus reducing exposure for past and future costs and providing certainty in the outcome.  A copy of the proposed settlement agreement is attached. 

The County Attorney requests that the Board approve the settlement, with the only consideration of the agreement being the waiver of the claims for attorney's fees and costs.

County Attorney Review
Other (Requires explanation in field below)

Explanation of Other
This is a County Attorney item.

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records
Please send a copy of the approved memo to JoAnn Gallo;

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs

Attachment:  jackson stip.pdf