Lawsuit not over yet
May 29, 2020
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- After a day and a half hearing, a judge in the state capital said he could not take control of the state’s unemployment system because of the separation of powers, but a lawsuit claiming negligence and more is moving forward.
30,000 or more Floridians have contacted lawyers suing the state over its failed unemployment system.
In their efforts to get a judge to take over the system, they invoked the governor’s own words.
“Governor DeSantis said it best; this is a clunker, and he said publicly, he thought the system was designed to fail from the beginning,” said attorney Marie Mattox.
And while Judge John Cooper said he was clearly unhappy with the way unemployment benefits were being handled, he told lawyers it was out of his hands.
“I can’t tell the governor what to do most of the time,” said Cooper.
And he went one step further.
“If you see something that you think is wrong, then you vote out that person, or that legislator, that city council person,” said Cooper.
But the judge also did not kill the lawsuit that was behind the request for emergency action to take over the department.
“The case is not over. I haven’t dismissed the case,” said Cooper.
While the lawsuit has just a handful of clients right now, it’s expected to turn into a very large class action suit.
The body of the suit seeks damages from the main contractor who built the problem laden system in 2013.
“I’m comfortable telling your honor that there’s at least 50,000, and I think it’s more,” said attorney Gautier Kitchen.
The ruling does mean that for people still waiting for a check they’ll now have to rely on the overwhelmed Department.
The lawyers believe the lawsuit will take a year or longer to play out in the courts.
The governor has ordered his Inspector General to get to the bottom of the failed system and may seek some financial settlement from maker Deloitte.
Lawmakers are also expected to wade into the fiasco when then begin meeting late this year.