Manatee County Government Administrative Center Honorable Patricia M. Glass Chambers, First Floor 9:00 a.m. - November 19, 2019
November 19, 2019 - Regular Meeting
Agenda Item #16

Audra Stern v. Manatee County; workers' compensation claim OJCC#06-012323DBB(consolidated); recommended settlement

Briefing Provided Upon Request

Contact and/or Presenter Information
Mitchell O. Palmer, County Attorney, Ext. 3750
Nicole Ferris, Adjuster, Ext. 3750

Action Requested
Motion to approve the settlement of all claims for $257,000, inclusive of attorney fees plus $100 for a general release, and to authorize the County Attorney or his designee to execute all documentation necessary to effect the settlement of the workers' compensation matter of  Audra Stern v. Manatee County.

Enabling/Regulating Authority
  • Chapter 440, Florida Statutes 
  • Manatee County Ordinance 16-26

Background Discussion

Audra Stern, the claimant, was hired as a charge paramedic in June 2003.  He is 58 years old.  He was terminated on 5/3/18 because he was no longer able to perform the essential functions of his job.

Mr. Stern had a work-related injury on 2/28/06.  He was lifting an obese patient and developed back pain.  The initial diagnosis was thoracic and lumbar compression fractures.  He was also diagnosed with a lumbar disc protrusion. He had many years of treatment by multiple providers for his ongoing chronic pain. He has had an implantation of a spinal cord stimulator, epidural spinal injections, facet injections, a rhizotomy, pain medications and physical therapy. He was placed at maximum medical improvement on 11/22/13 with a 6% impairment rating and no restrictions.

On 1/23/14, the claimant experienced another workplace accident  He injured his sacrum and coccyx. With regard to this accident he was placed at MMI on 4/30/14 with a 0% impairment rating. 

On 12/13/17 the claimant returned to the pain management physician because he was experiencing increased pain.  He was taken out of work for a period of time due to his lifting restrictions.  The occupation of  a charge paramedic requires the ability to lift 100 lbs. alone. 

On 1/25/18 he was referred back to the orthopedic surgeon for re-evaluation.  Additional diagnostic tests were ordered followed by injections for pain management. 

On 5/3/18 the claimant received a non-disciplinary termination.  Since that time he has been unable to find employment. 

On 9/14/18, the claimant was given a permanent 30 lb. lifting restriction.

The claimant filed a Petition for Benefits for permanent total disability benefits on 11/6/18.  The exposure for permanent total disability is valued at $570,657 to $585,913 (present day value depends on the discount rate).  Medical exposure  is based on the MSA (Medicare Set-Aside Allocation) in the amount of $21,085.00.  In an attempt to reduce our exposure we hired vocational experts for testing and job placement.  There are several factors that impact any hopes for job placement.

The parties reached an agreement with continued post mediation negotiations.  The settlement amount is $257,000, plus $100 for the general release.  This is contingent on the BOCC approval.  The amount was approved by the excess carrier.  Our self-insured retention (SIR)  is $350,000 and we are over the SIR amount. The County will thus be reimbursed the full amount of this settlement, by the excess insurance carrier.  

The County is obligated to make a good faith effort to settle the claim.  The outcome for a permanent total award appears to weigh heavily in favor of the claimant. The Judge of Compensation Claims had approved 2 advances totaling $4,000.  Advances are allowed under Chapter 440, Florida Statutes. 

The County Attorney requests that the Board approve the settlement for $257,100(less the advances) which includes attorney fees and a general release, and allow the County Attorney or his designee to execute all documentation necessary to effect the settlement, in the workers' compensation matter of Audra Stern v. Manatee County.

County Attorney Review
Other (Requires explanation in field below)

Explanation of Other

This is a County Attorney item.

Reviewing Attorney

Instructions to Board Records

Assuming approval, please send a copy of the approved agenda memo to Linda Klasing, Risk Manager, linda.klasing@mymanatee.org.

Cost and Funds Source Account Number and Name

Amount and Frequency of Recurring Costs
$253,100 (reduced by the $4,000 advance) One-time

Attachment:  Stern, Audra- GR 11_7_19.pdf
Attachment:  Stern, Audra- HIPAA 11_7_19.pdf
Attachment:  Stern, Audra- Ltr to EM 11_7_19.pdf
Attachment:  Stern, Audra- Stip & Release 11_7_19.pdf