Florida’s Workers’ Compensation Law extends immunity to contractors and subcontractors. As is to be expected, however, in order for such immunity to bar suit in a particular case, the company must fall within the applicable definition of “contractor.” Indeed, many companies may be in relationships that analogize to contract relationships but cannot—despite their best efforts otherwise—have recourse to the Workers’ Compensation Law to immunize themselves for injuries arising from their negligence. The scope of what constitutes a contractor for purposes of the Workers’ Compensation Law was at the heart of a recent decision from Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal, Slora v. Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, Inc.
The plaintiff in this case was employed by U.S. Security Associates, Inc., a company that provided event security to Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In, Inc., a company that operated an air show near Lakeland, Florida. In order to operate this air show, Sun ‘n Fun was required to obtain certain certificates of waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration (“FAA”). The FAA granted the waivers, which came with various standard and specialized provisions with which Sun ‘n Fun needed to comply, including provisions for security. Sun n’ Fun contracted with U.S. Security to provide these required security measures, and the plaintiff was assigned to provide security during the air show. The plaintiff was working at a security guard shack at Lakeland Regional Airport when a tornado struck. The winds lifted the shack from the ground and deposited it in a ditch. The plaintiff made a workers’ compensation claim through her employer, which maintains workers’ compensation insurance. The claim was settled.