TALLAHASSEE — A Florida appeals court has ruled that Ring Power Corp. is not obligated to keep giving workers' compensation to Andrew Murphy, an employee who was injured in 2006.
Murphy had a spinal fusion surgery a few months after his 2006 accident, according to background information in the 1st District Court of Appeal opinion. Doctors used rods and screws to stabilize Murphy’s spine while the bone grew back together, helping him recover in a year.
The rods and screws were no longer needed, but they stayed inside Murphy.
In 2016, three years after his employer stopped giving him workers' compensation, Murphy filed for a petition to get additional treatment, the opinion said.
Ring Power cited the statute of limitations, saying it is not obligated to keep giving compensation because it has been too long since Murphy received the last compensation and he has recovered.
“Because the petition was filed long after the last treatment, the employer asserted a statute-of-limitations defense,” the court said.
The judge of compensations claims sided with Murphy, saying Murphy can continue to get compensation because the rods and screws are still inside him.
Ring Power then appealed the ruling. The appeals court reviewed the case and decided Murphy is not entitled to compensation despite having the rods and screws inside him. The court said the rods and screws are inside him, but it’s not serving any purpose since he has already recovered.
“We must decide whether having rods and screws attached indefinitely means a claimant is furnished remedial treatment indefinitely,” the court said. “We hold it does not. It is undisputed that the pins and screws no longer serve any purpose.”
Murphy made his argument using the case of Gore v. Lee County School Board, which found that an employee can continue to get benefits if he continues using a medical apparatus.
The court said Murphy’s case is different from the Gore case. In the Gore case, the court said the employee had to continue using a knee prosthesis. That’s different from the case of Murphy, who doesn’t have to continue using the rods and screws even though it’s inside him, the court said.
“The rods and screws were used for a temporary purpose, but for years they have served no function at all,” the court said. “Their placement does not toll the statute of limitations.”
Ring Power is a Cat Equipment dealer, which sells heavy machinery and construction equipment to contractors in North and Central Florida, including Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and surrounding areas. The company has 24 branch locations nationwide, with the headquarters in St. Augustine, according to the company's website.
The company highlights the importance of safety on its website.
"When it comes to business, the first priority is providing a safe work environment to protect a company's most valuable assets: its people," the company wrote on its website. "With a safe environment comes added benefits to contractors, government agencies and other business owners in the form of increased uptime, operating efficiency and reduced insurance rates."
Ring Power wrote in a blog post on its website that "safety is often viewed as an expense with little return on investment, but in actuality, safety focused companies enjoy extreme savings and a market advantage over their competition."