A new case was just published by the Florida First District Court of Appeal, intrepreting the heart-lung bill, applicable to police and firefighters, found in Florida Statute 112.18. The case is Miami-Dade County v. Davis, 26 So.2d 13 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009).
As we know, Florida Statute 112.18 gives police and firefighters a presumption that heart disease is acquired in the line of duty, if the worker successfully passes a pre-emplyment physical that fails to reveal any evidence of the disease. In this particular case, firefighter Davis passed his pre-employment physical, later developed heart disease and had bypass surgery at the expense of his employer.
He stopped working as a firefighter for a time, and later applied for work again as a firefighter with another county. This time his physical revealed heart disease, but he was not considered such a risk he was precluded from employment. He had another cardiac event while off duty and put in another claim for workers’ compensation. The county declined the claim, arguing his pre-employment physical found evidence of heart disease. The firefighter argued he has passed his initial physical, and that anything subsequent cardiac problems should be presumed in the line of duty. The judge agreed, but the court of appeal reversed the ruling.
The upshot of the court’s ruling was that the firefighter’s application to work for a new county required he pass a new physical, and his failure to pass the new physical without evidence of heart disease, prevented him from claiming the presumption affored by Florida Statute 112.18.
This should be a serious consideration if you are thinking of changing job locations and you have already had a work related cardiac event covered by this statute. A new physical could prevent you from claiming further coverage under this statute.