In Florida, a “statutory employer” is a legal term used in workers’ compensation law. It refers to a situation where an employer (the contractor) hires another person or entity (the subcontractor) to perform work that is part of the contractor’s regular business.
If the subcontractor doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance coverage for its employees, the contractor may be considered a “statutory employer.” As a result, the contractor may be liable for any workers’ compensation claim filed by the subcontractor’s employees. Conversely, the contractor is immune from liability, if the “subcontractor who has secured such payment,” § 440.10, Fla. Stat.
Can a condo association then be a “contractor” immune from liability § 440.10, Fla. Stat. for “statutory employees,” the covered employees of its subcontractors?
Bal Harbour Tower Condominium Association, Inc., vs Martin Bellorin
The Third District Court of Appeals recently addressed this in Bal Harbour Tower Condo. Ass’n v. Bellorin, 351 So. 3d 96 (Fla. 3d DCA 2022). In this case, Bellorin, an employee of APS, a valet company hired by Bal Harbour Tower Condo, was injured while carrying residents’ bags, a part of his job duties. The contract between Bal Harbour Tower Condo and APS required that APS maintain their workers’ compensation insurance, and APS had this coverage.
Bellorin then sued Bal Harbour Tower Condo under premises liability theories. But, Bal Harbour Tower Condo argued that Bellorin was their statutory employee (§ 440.10, Fla. Stat).
However, the trial court ruled that Bal Harbour Tower Condo wasn’t Bellorin’s statutory employee. This is because Bal Harbour Tower Condo’s duty to provide valet parking services arose from its Condominium Declaration , and not a contract.
The Third District disagreed. It maintained that “[t]o be considered a contractor under section 440.10, [the association’s] primary obligation in performing a job or providing a service must arise out of a contract,” Id. at 99. It also maintained that the “declaration [of condominium] operates as a contract among unit owners and the association, outlining their respective rights and responsibilities,” Id. (citing Williams v. Salt Springs Resort Ass’n, Inc., 298 So. 3d 1255, 1260 (Fla. 5th DCA 2020)).
As one can see, condo associations could be considered a contractor under § 440.10, Fla. Stat., and due to this, they could be immune from premises liability claims.
For more information on real estate, condo, or premises liability matters, contact one of our attorneys at 305-570-2208. You can also email trial attorney Eduardo A.Maura at email@example.com.
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