Festa v. Teleflex, Inc.

Decision Date02 April 1980
Docket NumberNo. QQ-431,QQ-431
PartiesMichael R. FESTA, Appellant, v. TELEFLEX, INC. and Reliance Insurance Company, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Jim D. Syprett, of Crabtree, Butler, Syprett & Meshad, Sarasota, for appellant.

Richard R. Crooke, of Macfarlane, Ferguson, Allison & Kelly, Tampa, for appellees.


Festa seeks review of an order from the judge of industrial claims finding that he did not suffer an occupational disease or a compensable accident. We reverse.

Festa began working for Teleflex, Inc. in January or February 1978. He made plastic plugs by first releasing molten plastic into a mold and then removing the excess plastic from the plug be pulling it off with pliers. This required a twisting and turning action of the wrist while exerting 30-40 lbs. of pressure, and Festa made from 500-900 plugs per workshift. The job was ordinarily performed by two persons, but Festa worked alone for approximately 45 days before he began experiencing difficulties with his hands.

Around June 2, 1978, the fingers of Festa's right hand began to get numb; he switched to using his left hand, and the fingers of his left hand became numb. He reported this to his employer and saw Dr. Grindal, a neurologist, on June 26, 1978.

Dr. Grindal testified that Festa's underlying diabetic condition could have weakened the wrist area, making Festa more susceptible to damage from the repeated trauma, but the primary factor in the development of the carpal tunnel syndrome was Festa's work.

The judge of industrial claims held there was no competent, substantial evidence upon which to award benefits for disability arising out of an occupational disease and that Festa had not suffered an accident within the meaning of the Act. Because we hold that claimant did suffer an accident, we do not rule on the question of occupational disease.

Florida has a long, well established history of awarding compensation benefits to workers who are injured by exposure to deleterious substances. Orr v. Florida Industrial Commission, 129 Fla. 369, 176 So. 172 (1937) (intense heat); Meehan v. Crowder, 158 Fla. 361, 28 So.2d 435 (1946) (exposure to mercury); Czepial v. Krohne Roofing Co., 93 So.2d 84 (Fla.1957) (exposure to dust and fumes). However, benefits have almost routinely been denied to workers whose injuries resulted from repeated minor traumas. S.H. Kress & Co. v. Burkes, 153 Fla. 868, 16 So.2d 106 (1944) (tenosynovitis caused by constant and repeated strain); Tyler v. Homestead Canning Co., 5 FCR 58 (1962) (tenosynovitis from peeling tomatoes).

In Keller Building Products of St. Petersburg v. Shirley, IRC Order 2-3263, cert. denied 362 So.2d 1054 (Fla.1978), the IRC resolved this disparate treatment by classifying repeated trauma as a facet of exposure, thereby bringing repeated trauma cases within the ambit of the exposure rationale. In Keller, the Commission implicitly overruled the previous cases holding that injuries resulting from repeated trauma were not compensable, e. g., Dependable Air Conditioning and Appliances, Inc. v. Topper, IRC Order 2-2927, cert. denied 341 So.2d 293 (Fla.1976); Wanczak v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., 6 FCR 77 (1966) when it stated, "We can find no reason in logic for distinguishing this type of case from one where the employee is exposed to a deleterious substance associated with his employment." 2-3263 at 6. Keller, therefore, provides us with a new and more realistic method for analyzing repeated trauma cases; a method which is logically consistent with the purpose of workers' compensation: to compensate workers who suffer job related injuries.

In order to bring together and clarify the exposure rationale, we here review the principles established.

The initial Florida case involving injury by exposure was Orr, supra, wherein the claimant suffered heat exhaustion and died. In awarding benefits to the widow, the court stated:

If the heat exhaustion arose out of the employment, as well as in its course, we think it is clear that any harmful effect upon the physical structure of the body of the employee, which was a proximate result of it, is an accident under our statute. . . . In connection with the sort of accident here involved, the principle to which most authorities give assent is that the harmful condition does arise out of the employment, if, in the performance of the duties for which he was engaged, in the manner required or contemplated by the employer, it is necessary for the employee to expose himself to a danger, materially in excess of that to which people commonly in that...

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  • Massie v. University of Florida, BN-98
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • June 29, 1990
    ...in everyday life, and that the level of stress In reviewing the original order on appeal, this court's opinion cited Festa v. Teleflex, Inc., 382 So.2d 122 (Fla. 1st DCA) pet. for rev. denied, 388 So.2d 1119 (Fla.1980), for the rule of law that a showing of unusual and excessive stress as a......
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    ...and has been provided for in a number of situations. See, e.g., Sec. 440.151, Fla.Stat. (occupational diseases); Festa v. Teleflex, Inc., 382 So.2d 122 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990) (repetitive trauma or exposure), rev. denied, 388 So.2d 1119 (Fla.1980).6 "Injury" is defined, in part, as "personal in......
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