HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS INC v. WHITEHEAD

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HARBOR FREIGHT TOOLS, INC. and Safety National Casualty Corp./Corvel, Appellants, v. Patricia WHITEHEAD, Appellee.

No. 1D17–3194

Decided: May 18, 2018

Daniel M. Schwarz and Gina M. Jacobs of Cole, Scott & Kissane, P.A., Plantation, for Appellants. Daniel J. Glary, Jacksonville, for Appellee.

A judge of compensation claims awarded workers' compensation benefits based on the so-called “120–day rule,” which generally precludes carriers from denying compensability if they begin paying benefits and do not challenge compensability within 120 days. See § 440.20(4), Fla. Stat. (2015); see also Sierra v. Metropolitan Protective Servs., 188 So.3d 863, 866–67 (Fla. 1st DCA 2015). But “[a] claimant's ‘defense’ of waiver to an [employer's] ability to deny compensability of an accident or specific injury/condition pursuant to the ‘120–Day Rule’ is an affirmative pleading which must be timely raised and specifically plead[ed].” Teco Energy, Inc. v. Williams, 234 So.3d 816, 823 (Fla. 1st DCA 2017). Here the claimant did not specifically plead application of the 120–day rule. The judge of compensation claims therefore erred in awarding benefits based on the rule.

Reversed.

Per Curiam.

Lewis, Kelsey, and Winsor, JJ., concur.