Holmes County School Bd. v. Duffell, No. 83283

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtSHAW; ANSTEAD, J., concurs specially with an opinion, in which KOGAN; GRIMES; ANSTEAD; KOGAN; GRIMES
Citation651 So.2d 1176
Decision Date09 March 1995
Docket NumberNo. 83283
Parties98 Ed. Law Rep. 1157, 20 Fla. L. Weekly S110 HOLMES COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, Petitioner, v. Terry DUFFELL, et al., Respondents.

Page 1176

651 So.2d 1176
98 Ed. Law Rep. 1157, 20 Fla. L. Weekly S110
HOLMES COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, Petitioner,
v.
Terry DUFFELL, et al., Respondents.
No. 83283.
Supreme Court of Florida.
March 9, 1995.

Michael W. Kehoe of Fuller, Johnson, Farrell, P.A., Pensacola, for petitioner.

Barry Gulker of Caminez, Walker & Brown, Tallahassee, for respondents.

Robert A. Ginsburg, Dade County Atty. and Michael S. Davis, Asst. County Atty., Miami, amicus curiae for Metropolitan Dade County.

J. Riley Davis of Katz, Kutter, Haigler, Alderman, Marks & Bryant, P.A., Tallahassee, amicus curiae for American Ins. Ass'n.

Robert A. Butterworth, Atty. Gen. and Craig B. Willis, Asst. Atty. Gen., Tallahassee, amicus curiae for Florida Dept. of Ins.

Page 1177

John J. Copelan, Jr., Broward County Atty., and Anthony C. Musto and Christine M. Duignan, Asst. County Attys., Fort Lauderdale, amicus curiae for Florida Ass'n of County Attys.

Thomas M. Ervin, Jr. of Ervin, Varn, Jacobs, Odom & Ervin, Tallahassee, amicus curiae for The Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.

SHAW, Justice.

We have for review Holmes County School Board v. Duffell, 630 So.2d 639 (Fla. 1st DCA 1994), alleged to be in conflict with Mandico v. Taos Construction, Inc., 605 So.2d 850 (Fla.1992). We have jurisdiction pursuant to article V, section 3(b)(3) of the Florida Constitution, and approve the district court's decision.

Terry Duffell, a custodian employed by the Holmes County School Board (the School Board), was injured on February 8, 1990, while assisting in a school bus evacuation drill. During the drill, Duffell was helping students exit through the rear door of a school bus when Robert Lewis, another School Board employee and driver of the bus immediately behind Duffell, allowed his bus to roll forward. As a result, Duffell was pinned between the buses and seriously injured.

In addition to claiming the right to receive workers' compensation benefits from the School Board, Duffell and his wife filed a civil action to recover for Lewis' negligence. Because section 768.28(9)(a), Florida Statutes (1991), immunized Lewis from personal liability, the civil action was maintained against the School Board. The School Board sought summary judgment pursuant to section 440.11(1), Florida Statutes (1991), alleging that workers' compensation was Duffell's exclusive remedy. The trial court denied the motion and the School Board's appeal was dismissed as untimely. The School Board then agreed to settle Duffell's workers' compensation claims and after the settlement was approved, the School Board, citing Duffell's acceptance of benefits and the settlement of his worker's compensation claims, again moved for summary judgment in the civil action. The motion was denied, and the School Board appealed.

In affirming the trial court's ruling, the district court held that section 440.11(1), Florida Statutes (1991), provides that workers' compensation is not a claimant's exclusive remedy as to liability of a fellow employee when each is operating in the furtherance of the employer's business but they are assigned primarily to unrelated works. 1 Holmes County, 630 So.2d at 640. We granted review based on asserted conflict with Mandico v. Taos Construction, wherein we ruled that "a general contractor who employs an independent contractor insulates himself from civil liability when, in accordance with the parties' contract, it procures a workers' compensation policy for the benefit of the independent contractor by deducting the policy premiums from payments due the independent contractor." Mandico, 605 So.2d at 853. We went on to hold that one who claims and receives workers' compensation benefits under such an arrangement will be found to have elected such compensation as an exclusive remedy where there is evidence of a conscious choice of remedies. Id.

The School Board argues that under our decision in Mandico Duffell's conscious selection of workers' compensation benefits precludes him from maintaining a civil cause of action for Lewis's negligence. We disagree. Mandico is not controlling because in that case we were not faced with the issue of whether an injured worker who accepts benefits from an employer is entitled to maintain a separate civil action against a negligent co-employee assigned to unrelated works.

The instant case involves the simultaneous operation of two Florida Statutes; sections 440.11 and 768.28. Section 440.11(1) provides that an employer's liability under workers' compensation is exclusive and in place of all other liability as to third-party tortfeasors and employees. The section provides that the same immunity extends to each employee

Page 1178

of the employer when such employee is acting in furtherance of the employer's business. However, this same section contains exceptions under which the employee immunity is not applicable. One such exception is where employees of the same employer operating in furtherance of the employer's business are assigned primarily to unrelated work.

440.11 Exclusiveness of liability.--

(1) The liability of an employer prescribed in s. 440.10 shall be exclusive and in place of all other liability of such employer to any third-party tortfeasor and to the employee.... The same immunities from liability enjoyed by the employer shall extend as well to each employee of the employer when such employee is acting in furtherance of the employer's business.... Such fellow-employee immunities shall not be applicable ... to employees of the same employer when each is operating in the furtherance of the employer's business but they are assigned primarily to unrelated works within private or public employment.

Sec. 440.11(1), Fla.Stat. (1991).

Section 768.28(9)(a), Florida Statutes (1991), immunizes public employees from personal liability for torts by requiring any civil action for the employee's negligence to be maintained against the governmental entity:

No officer, employee, or agent of the state or any of its subdivisions shall be held personally liable in tort or named as a party defendant in any action for any injury or damage suffered ... unless such officer, employee, or agent acted in bad faith or with malicious purpose or in a manner exhibiting wanton and willful disregard of human rights, safety, or property. ... The exclusive remedy for injury or damage suffered as a result of an act, event, or omission of an officer, employee or agent of the state ... shall be by action against the governmental entity....

Sec. 768.28(9)(a), Fla.Stat. (1991).

Because the legislature is silent with respect to the simultaneous operation of these statutes, we are guided by the plain and obvious meanings of both statutes.

Turning first to section 440.11(1), Florida Statutes (1991), we note that the employer immunity provision does not nullify the additional statutory rights conferred in the same section. Section 440.11(1) was amended in 1978 to extend tort immunity for workplace accidents to employees and to allow an injured worker to sue a negligent co-employee "when each is operating in the furtherance of the [same] employer's business but they are assigned primarily to unrelated works within private or public employment." Use of the language "within public or private employment" can only be read as conferring the same...

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35 practice notes
  • United Companies Lending Corp. v. McGehee
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 11, 1996
    ...State ex rel. Goff v. Merrifield, 191 W.Va. 473, 446 S.E.2d 695 (1994), and other cases.) See also Holmes County School Bd. v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176 (Fla.1995); Wilson v. Miles, 218 Ga.App. 806, 463 S.E.2d 381 (1995); Nunnally v. State Dep't of Public Safety, 663 So.2d 254 (La.App.1995); ......
  • State v. Fuchs, No. SC96766.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • September 14, 2000
    ...that statutes be read in pari materia, the absence of that directive does not bar such a reading." Holmes County School Board v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176, 1179 (Fla.1995)(allowing injured school board employee to maintain action against coworker as well as against school board by reading sec......
  • Florida Dept. of Transp. v. Juliano, No. SC99-153.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 21, 2001
    ...the fellow employee accused of negligence." Juliano asserted that under this Court's opinion in Holmes County School Board v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176 (Fla.1995), he was not required to identify the negligent fellow employee.3 Moreover, Juliano contended that because he named Mary Lou and Se......
  • Austin v. Duval County School Bd., No. 94-1859
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • July 13, 1995
    ...unrelated works within private or public employment." The unrelated works exception was applied in Holmes County School Board v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176 (Fla.1995). In Duffell, the supreme court affirmed this court's holding that workers' compensation is not a claimant's exclusive remedy as......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
35 cases
  • United Companies Lending Corp. v. McGehee
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Alabama
    • October 11, 1996
    ...State ex rel. Goff v. Merrifield, 191 W.Va. 473, 446 S.E.2d 695 (1994), and other cases.) See also Holmes County School Bd. v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176 (Fla.1995); Wilson v. Miles, 218 Ga.App. 806, 463 S.E.2d 381 (1995); Nunnally v. State Dep't of Public Safety, 663 So.2d 254 (La.App.1995); ......
  • State v. Fuchs, No. SC96766.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • September 14, 2000
    ...that statutes be read in pari materia, the absence of that directive does not bar such a reading." Holmes County School Board v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176, 1179 (Fla.1995)(allowing injured school board employee to maintain action against coworker as well as against school board by reading sec......
  • Florida Dept. of Transp. v. Juliano, No. SC99-153.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • November 21, 2001
    ...the fellow employee accused of negligence." Juliano asserted that under this Court's opinion in Holmes County School Board v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176 (Fla.1995), he was not required to identify the negligent fellow employee.3 Moreover, Juliano contended that because he named Mary Lou and Se......
  • Austin v. Duval County School Bd., No. 94-1859
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • July 13, 1995
    ...unrelated works within private or public employment." The unrelated works exception was applied in Holmes County School Board v. Duffell, 651 So.2d 1176 (Fla.1995). In Duffell, the supreme court affirmed this court's holding that workers' compensation is not a claimant's exclusive remedy as......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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