582 So.2d 1167 (Fla. 1991), 77179, Martinez v. Scanlan

Docket Nº:77179.
Citation:582 So.2d 1167, 16 Fla. L. Weekly S 427, 16 Fla. L. Weekly S 443
Party Name:Bob MARTINEZ, et al., Appellants, Cross-Appellees, v. Mark SCANLAN, et al., Appellees, Cross-Appellants.
Case Date:June 06, 1991
Court:Supreme Court of Florida

Page 1167

582 So.2d 1167 (Fla. 1991)

16 Fla. L. Weekly S 427, 16 Fla. L. Weekly S 443

Bob MARTINEZ, et al., Appellants, Cross-Appellees,


Mark SCANLAN, et al., Appellees, Cross-Appellants.

No. 77179.

Supreme Court of Florida.

June 6, 1991

Page 1168

Rehearing Denied Aug. 13, 1991.

Page 1169

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen., Mitchell D. Franks, Sp. Counsel and Harry F. Chiles, Kathleen E. Moore and Louis F. Hubener, Asst. Attys. Gen., Tallahassee, for Martinez, Menendez, and Lewis.

Daniel Y. Sumner, Tallahassee, for Gallagher.

Mary Ann Stiles and Rayford H. Taylor of Stiles & Taylor, P.A., Tallahassee, for Associated Industries of Florida.

Stanley James Brainerd, Gen. Counsel, Tallahassee, for Florida Chamber of Commerce.

Marguerite H. Davis and Edward L. Kutter of Katz, Kutter, Haigler, Alderman, Davis, Marks & Rutledge, P.A., Tallahassee, for Natl. Council on Compensation Ins. and Employers Ins. of Wausau.

H. Lee Moffitt, Mark Herron, Kirby C. Rainsberger and Christopher R. Haughee of Ackerman, Senterfitt, Eidson & Moffitt, Tampa, for Tampa Bay Area NFL, Inc. and South Florida Sports Corp.

Richard A. Sicking, Miami, for Mark Scanlan, Professional Fire Fighters of Florida, Inc., and Darryl Davis.

Fletcher N. Baldwin, Jr., University of Florida College of Law, Gainesville, Stephen Marc Slepin, Tallahassee, and Jerold Feuer, Miami, for AFL-CIO & IBEW, Local 606, and Communications Workers of America.

Kelly Overstreet Johnson of Broad and Cassel, Tallahassee, for Florida Police Benevolent Ass'n.

Talbot D'Alemberte, Samuel J. Dubbin, Cecilia F. Renn, Jennifer Prior Devin and Richard E. Getchell of Steel, Hector & Davis, Tallahassee, Florida; G.W. Jacobs, Sarasota, H. George Kagan of Miller, Kagan & Chait, P.A., Deerfield Beach, and Albert W. Frierson and Gerald W. Pierce of Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, Ft. Myers, amici curiae for Florida Const., Commerce, and Industry Self-Insurers' Fund, Florida Ass'n of Self-Insurers, and Florida Group Risk Administrators Ass'n, Inc.

Joel S. Perwin of Podhurst, Orseck, Josefsberg, Eaton, Meadow, Olin & Perwin, P.A., Miami, amicus curiae for Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.

James N. McConnaughhay of McConnaughhay, Roland, Maida, Cherr & McCranie, P.A., Tallahassee, and S. James Brainerd, Jr., General Counsel, Florida Chamber of Commerce, Tallahassee, amicus curiae for Florida Chamber of Commerce Self-Insurance Fund.

Steven A. Rissman and Mark S. Spangler of Rissman, Weisberg, Barrett & Hurt, P.A., Orlando, amici curiae for Employers Ass'n of Florida, and Florida Fruit and Vegetable Ass'n Self-Insurers Fund.

Albert M. Frierson, Paula F. Kelley and Joseph R. North of Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, Fort Myers, and H. George Kagan of Miller, Kagan & Chait, Deerfield Beach, amici curiae for Lee County Elec. Co-op., and Harper Bros., Inc., Self Insured Employers.

McDONALD, Justice.

We review Scanlan v. Martinez, no. 90-3137 (Fla.2d Cir. Ct. Dec. 5, 1990), wherein the trial court held chapter 90-201, Laws of Florida (the Comprehensive Economic Development Act of 1990), and part of chapter 89-289, Laws of Florida, unconstitutional. On appeal, the district court certified this case as being of great public importance and requiring immediate resolution. We have jurisdiction. Art. V, Sec. 3(b)(5), Fla. Const. We affirm in part and reverse in part the trial court's decision.

This case involves the validity of the legislature's recent, comprehensive revision of the workers' compensation laws. In the trial court, Mark Scanlan; Professional Fire Fighters of Florida, Inc.; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 606; Florida AFL-CIO; Communications Workers of America; Bill Stanfill; Ralph Ortega; Albert Darryl Davis; and plaintiff/intervenor, Florida Police Benevolent Association, filed for declaratory and injunctive relief requesting a determination of the validity of chapter 90-201 and designated portions of chapter 89-289. In the complaint, these parties alleged that they were either taxpayers, employers, employees,

Page 1170

or labor organizations who are interested in, or may be in doubt about, their rights under the 1989 and 1990 amendments to the workers' compensation law. The main thrust of the complaint was against the 1990 amendments as facially unconstitutional as a whole and in part because of purported single subject, separation of powers, due process, equal protection, and access to court violations. The 1989 amendments were claimed to be facially unconstitutional in part. Defendants Bob Martinez; Tom Gallagher; Hugo Menendez; Gerald Lewis; and defendants/intervenors Associated Industries of Florida; Florida Chamber of Commerce; National Council on Compensation Insurance; Employers Insurance of Wausau; Tampa Bay Area NFL, Inc.; and South Florida Sports Corporation replied by asserting that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring suit, that some of the claims were moot or unripe, and that both the 1989 and 1990 amendments were constitutional. Throughout the remainder of this opinion, we shall refer to the parties simply as Scanlan and Martinez.

The trial court granted declaratory relief, ruling chapter 90-201 facially unconstitutional because its content violated the single subject requirement. See art. III, Sec. 6, Fla. Const. The court also found chapter 90-201 facially unconstitutional because it violated separation of powers. See art. II, Sec. 3, Fla. Const. The court further found individual sections of chapters 90-201 and 89-289 facially unconstitutional but severable. Lastly, the court denied all other challenges to individual sections of chapter 90-201. The court, however, did not grant injunctive relief. Martinez now brings this appeal, and Scanlan cross-appeals.

We begin our discussion by analyzing the type of relief Scanlan requested at the trial court. A declaratory judgment is a statutorily created remedy. See ch. 86, Fla.Stat. (1989). The purpose of the declaratory judgment statute is to afford relief from insecurity and uncertainty with respect to rights, status, and other equitable or legal relations, and it should be liberally construed. Sec. 86.101, Fla.Stat. (1989). Individuals may challenge the validity of a statute in a declaratory action. Sec. 86.021, Fla.Stat. (1989). This Court has long held, however, that individuals seeking declaratory relief must show that

there is a bona fide, actual, present practical need for the declaration; that the declaration should deal with a present, ascertained or ascertainable state of facts or present controversy as to a state of facts; that some immunity, power, privilege or right of the complaining party is dependent upon the facts or the law applicable to the facts; that there is some person or persons who have, or reasonably may have an actual, present, adverse and antagonistic interest in the subject matter, either in fact or law; that the antagonistic and adverse interest are all before the court by proper process or class representation and that the relief sought is not merely the giving of legal advice by the courts or the answer to questions propounded from curiosity. These elements are necessary in order to maintain the status of the proceeding as being judicial in nature and therefore within the constitutional powers of the courts.

May v. Holley, 59 So.2d 636, 639 (Fla.1952) (emphasis added). Accord Williams v. Howard, 329 So.2d 277 (Fla.1976); Bryant v. Gray, 70 So.2d 581 (Fla.1954). Thus, although a court may entertain a declaratory action regarding a statute's validity, there must be a bona fide need for such a declaration based on present, ascertainable facts or the court lacks jurisdiction to render declaratory relief. Ervin v. Taylor, 66 So.2d 816 (Fla.1953); see Sec. 86.011, Fla.Stat. (1989).

In the case at bar, Scanlan and Martinez are disputing the constitutionality of the 1989 and 1990 amendments to the workers' compensation law. It is a close question whether any part of this action properly can be considered under the declaratory judgment act. 1 Even though the

Page 1171

legislature has expressed its intent that the declaratory judgment act should be broadly construed, there still must exist some justiciable controversy between adverse parties that needs to be resolved for a court to exercise its jurisdiction. Otherwise, any opinion on a statute's validity would be advisory only and improperly considered in a declaratory action. North Shore Bank v. Town of Surfside, 72 So.2d 659 (Fla.1954); Schwarz v. Nourse, 390 So.2d 389 (Fla. 4th DCA 1980); see also Florida Society of Ophthalmology v. State, Department of Professional Regulation, 532 So.2d 1278 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988) (a declaratory judgment action will not be permitted to give rise to a mere advisory opinion). Nevertheless, no party has raised this issue and, given the importance of this case, we hesitantly decline to dismiss this action sua sponte. 2

We do perceive that the rights and obligations of some of the parties and many others would be affected if the act in its entirety is invalid. Thus, we first address Scanlan's claim that, because the cumulative effect of chapter 90-201 is to substantially reduce...

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