Florida Supreme Court finds Workers’ Comp Law Does Not Bar Improper Debt Collections Action

Author: Melissa Manning

In Laboratory Corporation of America v. Davis, an injured employee attempted to bring an action under the Florida Consumer Collection Practices Act (FCCPA) claiming that providers had improperly billed her for medical treatment rather than her workers compensation carrier. She alleged that after she sought treatment for her injuries at two separate facilities, both improperly attempted to directly collect on the debt on multiple occasions. The trial court dismissed the claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction holding that a provision of the Workers’ Compensation Law vested the Department of Financial Services with exclusive jurisdiction to decide any matters concerning reimbursement. The Appellate Court overturned the decision and the medical providers appealed to the Florida Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court drew a distinction between “matter concerning reimbursement” and a dispute alleging prohibited billing finding the former involves the relationship between the billing provider and insurance carrier while the latter involves the relationship between the provider and the injured worker. The Supreme Court concluded that the exclusive jurisdiction provision of the Workers Compensation Law does not extend to improper billing disputes between a provider and an injured worker. While a narrow decision, it is one to watch as the scope of debt collections actions continues to expand nationally.

Laboratory Corporation of America, et al v. Patty Davis, CASE NO.: SC19-1923 (Fla. Feb. 17, 2020)

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