JOSEPH VIERA, ALICIA VIERA, PAIGE VIERA, JOEY VIERA, LYNN DEMCHAK VIERA and JOSEPH VIERA AND LYNN DEMCHAK on behalf of CHRISTOPHER DEMCHAK, Appellants,
CITY OF LAKE WORTH, FLORIDA, a municipal corporation, Appellee.
final until disposition of timely filed motion for rehearing.
from the Circuit Court for the Fifteenth Judicial Circuit,
Palm Beach County; Cheryl A. Cacacuzzo, Judge; L.T. Case No.
H. Littky-Rubin of Clark, Fountain, La Vista, Prather, Keen
& Littky-Rubin, LLP, West Palm Beach, and Ryan J. Wynne
of Slinkman, Slinkman & Wynne, P.A., Jupiter, for
J. Torcivia and Matthew L. Ransdell of Torcivia, Donlon,
Goddeau & Ansay, P.A., West Palm Beach, for appellee.
112.19, Florida Statutes (2015), provides benefits to certain
officers connected with law enforcement. Appellant Joseph
Viera, a former law enforcement officer with the City of Lake
Worth, sought section 112.19(2)(h)1. benefits from the City.
The circuit court dismissed his case on the ground that the
statute of limitations barred his claim. Because section
112.19(2)(h)1. creates a statutory entitlement to benefits to
be paid out periodically over time, we hold that the trial
court erred in dismissing the portion of his claim that
accrued after January 8, 2006.
112.19 provides benefits to law enforcement officers who are
killed or injured in the line of duty. Section 112.19(2)(h)1.
entitles a catastrophically injured employee and his family
to receive health insurance benefits. That statute provides:
Any employer who employs a full-time law enforcement,
correctional, or correctional probation officer who, on or
after January 1, 1995, suffers a catastrophic injury, as
defined in s. 440.02, Florida Statutes 2002, in the line of
duty shall pay the entire premium of the employer's
health insurance plan for the injured employee, the injured
employee's spouse, and for each dependent child of the
injured employee until the child reaches the age of majority
or until the end of the calendar year in which the child
reaches the age of 25 if the child continues to be dependent
for support, or the child is a full-time or part-time student
and is dependent for support. The term "health
insurance plan" does not include supplemental benefits
that are not part of the basic group health insurance plan.
If the injured employee subsequently dies, the employer
shall continue to pay the entire health insurance premium for
the surviving spouse until remarried, and for the dependent
children, under the conditions outlined in this
a. Health insurance benefits payable from any other source
shall reduce benefits payable under this section.
b. It is unlawful for a person to willfully and knowingly
make, or cause to be made, or to assist, conspire with, or
urge another to make, or cause to be made, any false,
fraudulent, or misleading oral or written statement to obtain
health insurance coverage as provided under this paragraph. A
person who violates this sub-subparagraph commits a
misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s.
775.082 or s. 775.083.
c. In addition to any applicable criminal penalty, upon
conviction for a violation as described in sub-subparagraph
b., a law enforcement, correctional, or correctional
probation officer or other beneficiary who receives or seeks
to receive health insurance benefits under this paragraph
shall forfeit the right to receive such health insurance
benefits, and shall reimburse the employer for all benefits
paid due to the fraud or other prohibited activity. For
purposes of this sub-subparagraph, "conviction"
means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea
or trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.
suffered catastrophic injuries which rendered him permanently
and totally disabled. Due to his injuries, he separated from
employment with the City as a "disability retiree,
" effective June 22, 2001. After December 10, 2002,
Viera had no personal or group health insurance coverage.
Viera reached a workers' compensation settlement with the
City in 2008.
January 8, 2010, Viera, along with his dependent children,
filed a declaratory relief action seeking (1) a declaration
that the City did not perform its statutory duty of paying
for health insurance coverage under section 112.19(2)(h)1.,
Florida Statutes; (2) an order directing the City to pay for
future health insurance coverage; and (3) an award of ...