www.mymanatee.org
Manatee County Government Administrative Center Commission Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - May 8, 2018
May 8, 2018 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #15


Subject
Belinda S. Deen o/b/o Randall D. Deen (deceased) v. Manatee County Sheriff's Office; workers' compensation claim

Briefings
None

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


Action Requested
Motion to approve a settlement for $47,500, inclusive of attorney fees, and a general release for $100, and to authorize the County Attorney or his designee to execute all documents necessary to effect the settlement in the workers' compensation matter of Randall D. Deen (deceased) v. Manatee County Sheriff's Office, OJCC Case No. 18-000454 DBB.


Enabling/Regulating Authority
Florida Statutes, Chapter 440 and Section 112.18; and Manatee County Ordinance 16-26.


Background Discussion
Randall Deen was hired as a corrections deputy on 3/18/11.  He died on 2/19/17.  The First Report of Injury description reads, "Collapsed while walking from vehicle to home.  ME (medical examiner) reports cause of death as heart attack." 

The First Report of Injury prompted an investigation on our behalf, for the possibility of a claim under the Heart and Lung Bill, (Florida Statutes, Chapter 112.18), also known as the "Presumption Statute."  The Presumption Statute essentially provides that if a covered employee suffers a covered condition (in this instance, heart disease), then the condition is presumed to be work-related.

The 4-prong standard of proof for the claim is as follows:
1. Claimant must be in a covered class (law enforcement officer, firefighter, corrections officer).
2. Claimant must have a covered condition (tuberculosis, hypertension, or heart disease).
3. Claimant must have a disability (entitlement to temporary, permanent, or death benefits).
4. Claimant must have a pre-employment physical with no signs of a covered condition.

In order to rebut the presumption, the employer/carrier must provide competent substantial evidence.

Through discovery and by engaging medical experts, we found some possible contradictory information with the medical examiner's report, noting cause of death as hypertension and atherosclerotic heart disease.  The pre-employment physical also reflected a high blood pressure reading.  We filed a denial based on our initial investigation.

The decedent's wife filed a Petition for Benefits on 1/8/18, seeking death and spousal benefits.  The Petition was filed more than 180 days after the decedent left employment, providing another possible defense that the claim was not brought timely.

Given the wording of the statute and case law regarding same, our possible defenses are not without risk. Costly fees would be incurred with no guarantee that the County would prevail. 

The County's exposure in summary:
  • Death benefits of $150,000 to the dependent spouse.  This is paid at 50% of the average weekly wage/biweekly, until the full amount is paid.
  • Funeral expenses are paid at a maximum of $7,500.  The actual cost in this case was $3778.
  • There is also exposure for retraining for the spouse.  The statute reads, "1800 classroom hours or community college up to 80 semester hours."  This is likely in the neighborhood of $8,900.
  • Additional legal fees, estimated at $8,000-$10,000. 
Total exposure, not including defense/legal fees, is $162,678.00.  Minimum exposure would be $153,778.00.  If the County does not prevail at final hearing, a substantial fee would be paid to the claimant's attorney. 

Mediation was conducted on 3/28/18.  A settlement agreement for $47,500 was reached.  This includes attorney fees and $100 for a general release.  This represents an estimated 70% savings.  This agreement is contingent on County Attorney and County Commission approval.

The County Attorney requests the Board approve the settlement for $47,500, inclusive of attorney fees and a general release, and allow the County Attorney or his designee to execute all settlement-related documents.


County Attorney Review
Other (Requires explanation in field below)

Explanation of Other
This is a County Attorney item.


Reviewing Attorney
Palmer

Instructions to Board Records
Please send a copy of the approved memo to Linda Klasing, Risk Manager, linda.klasing@mymanatee.org.


Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name
5050001200-52400

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs
$47,500 one time


Attachment:  Deen.pdf