Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., No. 81057

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Florida
Writing for the CourtKOGAN; BARKETT
Citation636 So.2d 8
Parties19 Fla. L. Weekly S115 Warren ZUNDELL, Petitioner, v. DADE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, et al., Respondents.
Docket NumberNo. 81057
Decision Date10 March 1994

Page 8

636 So.2d 8
19 Fla. L. Weekly S115
Warren ZUNDELL, Petitioner,
v.
DADE COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD, et al., Respondents.
No. 81057.
Supreme Court of Florida.
March 10, 1994.
Rehearing Denied May 16, 1994.

Page 9

Steven M. Dunn of Dunn & Johnson, P.A., Miami, for petitioner.

Sylvia A. Krainin of Kelley, Kronenberg, Kelley, Gilmartin & Fichtel, P.A., Miami Lakes, for respondents.

Cecilia F. Renn, General Counsel and Julie E. Douthit, Tallahassee, amicus curiae for Dept. of Labor and Employment Sec. Div. of Workers' Compensation.

Richard A. Barnett of Barnett & Hammer, P.A., Hollywood, amicus curiae for The Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers.

KOGAN, Justice.

We have for review the following question certified to be of great public importance:

WHETHER AN EMPLOYER IS REQUIRED TO PROVE THE EXISTENCE OF A PREEXISTING CONDITION IN COMPENSATION CASES INVOLVING HEART ATTACKS AND INTERNAL FAILURES OF THE CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEM AS A PREREQUISITE TO THE APPLICATION OF THE TEST FOR COMPENSABILITY ESTABLISHED IN VICTOR WINE & LIQUOR, INC., V. BEASLEY 1 AND RICHARD E. MOSCA & CO., INC., V. MOSCA 2?

Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., 609 So.2d 1367, 1371 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992). We rephrase the question as follows:

Whether the rule announced in Victor Wine & Liquor, Inc., v. Beasley, 141 So.2d 581 (Fla.1962), ever can apply to cardiovascular injuries occurring on the job when competent substantial medical evidence shows no evidence of a preexisting condition relevant to the injury?

We have jurisdiction. Art. V, Sec. 3(b)(4), Fla. Const.

Warren Zundell was an algebra teacher at Hialeah Junior High. On January 5, 1988,

Page 10

while dealing with a disruptive student, Zundell suffered a hemorrhage of the brain that later resulted in his retirement. The injury occurred following a series of problems with the student. The student was being unruly and was chewing a large wad of gum. When Zundell ordered the student to remove the gum, the student hurled the wad "like a baseball into the waste can" and then began screaming very loudly, "The gum is gone." Afterward, Zundell was forced to take the student twice to the school office for discipline--the second time after the student had attempted to return to class without apparent authorization.

After the second trip to the office, Zundell began feeling ill. He was unable to move his arms or stand up. Then he began vomiting and experiencing an intense headache. A rescue unit had to be summoned, and Zundell immediately was taken to a hospital. He later was diagnosed with the hemorrhage.

Medical evidence showed no preexisting condition that might explain the injury, although an expert also noted that such evidence sometimes is elusive. In any event, no other evidence existed to refute the medical finding of a lack of a preexisting condition. The expert did indicate that Zundell's hemorrhage most probably was caused by an elevation in blood pressure precipitated by the encounter with the student.

Zundell sought workers' compensation benefits for the incident, but the judge of compensation claims denied the petition. As grounds, the compensation judge relied on the standard announced in Victor Wine. On appeal, a divided First District Court of Appeal sitting en banc affirmed but certified the question. Zundell, 609 So.2d at 1371.

The rule of law announced in Victor Wine was intended to deal with the peculiar problem that arises when a worker's compensation claimant suffers a cardiovascular injury on the job that appears at least partly to have been caused by a preexisting medical condition. Under Victor Wine, a claimant whose injury may have been exacerbated by such a condition may be unable to recover without first showing that the injury occurred during a job-related exertion over and above normal working conditions. 3 Victor Wine, 141 So.2d at 588-89.

The Victor Wine rule rests on the policy that employers should not be held responsible for the preexisting condition and injuries that may normally flow from it. Put another way, Victor Wine is a means of determining when and how the cost of the injury will be apportioned so that employers only are liable for what is reasonably attributable to workplace conditions.

The exact method by which Victor Wine achieves this division has been criticized as placing an unfair burden on the claimant. E.g., Zundell, 609 So.2d at 1373 (Webster, J., dissenting in part, concurring in part). However, we need not and therefore do not revisit the soundness of that analysis or its exact contours today, because the present case does not involve a preexisting condition and therefore does not implicate Victor Wine in the first instance. As Judge Webster correctly noted in dissent below, this Court has never extended Victor Wine to encompass cases in which the evidence showed a lack of any preexisting condition. Id. at 1372 (citing cases). District court cases that appear to have done so to that degree have improperly...

To continue reading

Request your trial
13 practice notes
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 Junio 2006
    ...Sch. Bd., 609 So.2d 1367 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quashed by 636 So.2d 8 (Fla.1994); Jones v. State, 606 So.2d 709 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quash......
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 Junio 2006
    ...Sch. Bd., 609 So.2d 1367 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quashed by 636 So.2d 8 (Fla.1994); Jones v. State, 606 So.2d 709 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quash......
  • Bryant v. David Lawrence Mental Health Center, No. 95-1411
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 26 Abril 1996
    ...a condition. See Hacker v. St. Petersburg Kennel Club, 396 So.2d 161, 162-63 (Fla.1981); see also Zundell v. Dade County School Board, 636 So.2d 8, 12 (Fla.1994). Only if the employer and carrier have satisfied that burden of proof is it appropriate for the JCC to hold the claimant to the m......
  • Hensley v. Punta Gorda, No. 96-358
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 6 Enero 1997
    ...of employment unless the original injury is the major contributing cause of the subsequent injury); Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., 636 So.2d 8, 10 (Fla.1994) (Under rule of Victor Wine & Liquor, Inc. v. Beasley, 141 So.2d 581, 588 (Fla.1961), claimant whose preexisting cardiovascular co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
13 cases
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 Junio 2006
    ...Sch. Bd., 609 So.2d 1367 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quashed by 636 So.2d 8 (Fla.1994); Jones v. State, 606 So.2d 709 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quash......
  • Childers v. State, No. 1D03-2154.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 28 Junio 2006
    ...Sch. Bd., 609 So.2d 1367 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quashed by 636 So.2d 8 (Fla.1994); Jones v. State, 606 So.2d 709 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (en banc decision released without antecedent publication of panel decision), quash......
  • Bryant v. David Lawrence Mental Health Center, No. 95-1411
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 26 Abril 1996
    ...a condition. See Hacker v. St. Petersburg Kennel Club, 396 So.2d 161, 162-63 (Fla.1981); see also Zundell v. Dade County School Board, 636 So.2d 8, 12 (Fla.1994). Only if the employer and carrier have satisfied that burden of proof is it appropriate for the JCC to hold the claimant to the m......
  • Hensley v. Punta Gorda, No. 96-358
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 6 Enero 1997
    ...of employment unless the original injury is the major contributing cause of the subsequent injury); Zundell v. Dade County School Bd., 636 So.2d 8, 10 (Fla.1994) (Under rule of Victor Wine & Liquor, Inc. v. Beasley, 141 So.2d 581, 588 (Fla.1961), claimant whose preexisting cardiovascular co......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT