Considering the results of my first appeal were less than celebratory, I am happy to write my second appeal. . . and first win!  You can view the case, MedPartners/SRS v. Zenith here.

The issue was a contribution claim between two Carriers with the same Employer spanning two dates of accidents.  I represented the Carrier of the first accident (Carrier #1).  The Carrier of the second accident (Carrier #2) sued us for contribution, claiming that all of the medical care for the second accident was wholly related to the first accident. 

My defense was the Statute of Limitations; that it ran against Claimant and therefore prevented Carrier #2 from seeking contribution against Carrier #1. 

(More after the jump.)

According to case law, if Carrier #1 is no longer liable to Claimant under the Statute of Limitations, then it cannot be liable to Carrier #2 for contribution.  However, Carrier #2 argued that since we both share the same Employer, the very fact that medical benefits were provided for the second accident “revived” the statute of limitation.  The lower court bought Carrier #2’s argument and ruled in their favor.

On appeal, we focused on the case law that the Judge of Compensation Claims cited in her opinion.  I am obviously happy with the result but even happier with the reasoning and ultimate holding of the First DCA.  The Court found that the cases the JCC relied upon were related to claims prior to the 1994 changes to the Statue of Limitations provision.  The 1994 changes offer no language of reviving the Statute of Limitations once it is expired.  The use of the word “toll” in section 440.19(2) is only for the period of when the Statute  has yet to expire.  Once it expires, there is nothing to toll.

The Court views the Statute of Limitations as a clock.  Once time elapses (2 years post accident, then 1 year after last benefit provided), their can be no “reviving” of the Statute.  That is an E/C can make the mistake of paying for a benefit after the Statute has run and still not open the door to “reviving” the Statute.   In other words, by providing benefits an E/C can only extend (or “toll”) the Statute, it cannot revive an expired Statutes claim.*

What ends up as a win for me is also a win for E/C’s.

*The First DCA notes that this case does not affect the estoppel provision in s.440.1(4).

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