Thursday, February 11, 2016

It's just another court-watch Thursday

As I rode home from an Inns of Court meeting last night, I was surprised in conversation to learn that everyone is not riveted to the saga of Florida workers' compensation constitutionality. Sitting so close to the subject, I guess we tend to assume everyone else is as interested. But, to the contrary, many do not even know the challenges exist, or what they could mean. More on the potential outcomes in future posts. 

On June 5, 2014 the Florida Supreme Court held oral argument in Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg. That is a review of a decision from the First District Court of Appeal en banc opinion rendered December 13, 2013. That followed the First District Court panel opinion ("natural justice") of February 28, 2013, which followed the Judge's trial decision on June 22, 2012.

On November 5, 2014, the Florida Supreme Court held oral argument in Castellanos v. Next Door Company. This is a review of the appellate decision of October 23, 2013. The trial order that began the appellate review process was entered July 3, 2012. 

There have been some who prognosticated as to when these cases would be decided. I predicted that by December 2015 the Court would answer the questions in both of these cases. I was profoundly wrong. There are those who think that with the Court's recent acceptance of jurisdiction in Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, the Court will render no decisions in any of these constitutionality challenges until it has heard the Stahl arguments in April 2016; or, they posit, that the Court may not render any constitutionality opinion in any case until it is prepared to address all of these challenges. Some prognosticate that means the fall of 2016 or beyond. Perhaps I will be blogging about these cases next Valentine's day?

It occurred to me that every good saga needs a theme song. I mentioned this at a meeting recently and an attorney suggested it should be Happy Birthday (which we incidentally could use without paying royalties). The attorney pointed out that this summer Florida celebrates the fourth birthdays of the trial orders in Castellanos and Westphal

But, I suggest instead Manic Monday, covered by the Bangles in 1985, but with some lyric changes. No offense intended to the song's writer, believe it or not an artist known (or formerly known) as Prince, written under the nom de plume Christopher. The song comes to my mind each Thursday as I and a multitude of others  in the Comp world make our weekly pilgrimage to the Florida Supreme Court website. See, the Court issues written opinions in a generally predictable procedure each Thursday morning, usually around 11:00 (Eastern, which is 8:00 Pacific).

So, for so many involved in Florida workers' compensation, and the industry generally, coast to coase, as we approach the June 5, 2016 anniversary of the Westphal oral argument, the fourth work-day each week is "court-watch Thursday." We watch the clock each Thursday, and periodically click to "refresh" the screen. Some on the west coast (California: "swimmin pools, movie stars") tell me they actually set their alarm to arise on Thursdays just to check for closure on the epic story of Florida workers' compensation constitutionality challenges. 

Back in the day, icon Walter Kronkite closed his news each evening reminding us all what day it was in the "hostage crisis." It was a nightly ritual to hear how many days it had been for those Americans in Tehran. The same attorney that suggested Happy Birthday also suggested that someone should provide a countdown clock for Westphal and Castellanos. In the age of smart phones and apps, it is possible many are already watching that. For the sake of curiosity, today it has been 616 days since the Westphal argument and 463 days since the Castellanos argument. 

Will this Thursday be "The Thursday?" Or, is it "just another Court-watch Thursday?" For your enjoyment, here are the lyrics, altered just a bit, for Court-Watch Thursday, sung to the Tune of Manic Monday, by Prince. And, as it is my musical debut, "I'd like to dedicate it to a young man who doesn't think he's seen anything good today - Cameron Frye, this one's for you."

February already
I was just wonderin if it’s a dream
I was checkin on the website
regretting delay we’ve already seen

But they can't be “late”
'Cause the Court decides when outcomes are due
Such are machinations
When you wish the case was already through

It's just another court-watch Thursday
I wish it was Friday
'Cause that's not court day
It’s an “I don’t have to check day”
It's just another court-watch Thursday

Have to check the website
They post up the decisions by 11:00
And if I had more patience
I still couldn't wait until then

'Cause its taken them so long
Just to figure out what they’re gonna say
Blame it on the briefs
But delay’s just not the easy way

It's just another court-watch Thursday
I wish it was Tuesday
'Cause that's not court day
It’s an “I don’t have to check day”
It's just another court-watch Thursday

All of the cases
Why did this Court have to pick
These few to slow down?

Doesn't it matter
That comp touches all employment
Certainty should abound

Some predict decisions soon 
Others sing a slightly different tune
Time it goes so slow
When you really just wanna know

It's just another court-watch Thursday
I wish it was Monday
'Cause that's not court day
An “I don’t have to check day”
It's just another court-watch Thursday

I wish it was Wednesday
'Cause that's not court day

No, It's just another court-watch Thursday

And, I would just like to know. So, see you on the website today at 10:00 and every Thursday at 10:00 until the outcome is known. It's a vigil, like watching the Vatican chimney for white smoke!

Update February 12, 2016 - It was just another Court-watch Thursday yesterday. So today is day 617 in the Westphal vigil and 464 days in the Castellanos vigil; and the odysee continues. See you next Thursday . . . .wish it was Wednesday . . . cannot get that tune out of my brain now.  

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