A Florida appeals court has sided with grocery chain Winn-Dixie Inc. and its workers’ compensation insurer in a case involving a store employee whose two-decade-old workplace injury led to the surgical removal of her kidney.
The Florida District Court of Appeal ruled in a Wednesday ruling that a statute of limitations barred Annalie Ortiz from receiving additional benefits to treat an illness she says was linked to her work injury.
Ortiz was injured in 2003 when she tripped and fell while working at the Winn-Dixie grocery store in Naples. A box she was carrying landed on her right side, and the incident subsequently led to the removal of her right kidney.
After receiving treatment under the comp system for several years, Ortiz was notified in August 2020 that her authorization for care and benefits was terminated because she did not submit an application for additional benefits within the required time frame.
Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. disputed Ortiz̵7;s claim that only seeing his authorized provider during two visits in 2019 and 2020 should have given rise to a presumption that the care was for treatment related to the work injury.
Evidence showed the doctor was treating Ortiz for other problems.
The appeals court said that even if the doctor was competent to provide care for the compensable work injury, “furnishing” treatment is different from being competent to treat an injured party.
A workers’ compensation judge ruled in favor of the company that the claim for benefits was time-barred, and the appeals court agreed, further rejecting the plaintiff’s argument that a visit to a physician approved by the physician was sufficient in itself to toll the statute of limitations.