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Florida First DCA affirms disallowance of workers compensation benefits to police officer suffering from primary hypertension, finding disqualification based on pre-employment history of resolved secondary hypertension

On September 15, 2021, in Holcombe v. City of Naples/Johns Eastern Company, Inc., No. 1D20-565, the Florida First DCA affirmed a Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) order denying compensability for primary hypertension to a Naples police officer. The employee relied on Fla. Stat. § 112.18, which provides that firefighters, law enforcement and correctional officersare entitled to a statutory presumption that hypertension is occupationally caused “unless the contrary can be shown by competent evidence.” The WC claimant had suffered from secondary hypertension prior to his employment which was caused by certain medication and had previously resolved after the medication was discontinued. Notwithstanding the difference between the secondary hypertension the claimant previously suffered and the primary hypertension which he developed while serving as a police officer, the First DCA concluded that WC benefits were precluded by a provision in § 112.18, and in a companion statute, § 943.13, neither of which differentiates between primary and secondary hypertension.