Skip to Content

Florida Supreme Court Decision Regarding NICA

The Florida Supreme Court narrows definition of "birth-related neurological injury" for NICA claims and holds that health care providers are not entitled to benefit of statutory rebuttable presumption in favor of NICA compensability.

On July 7, the Florida Supreme Court made it more difficult for a health care provider to establish that a brain damaged infant has suffered a "birth-related neurological injury" and is therefore statutorily limited to only no-fault compensation under the Florida Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Plan (NICA) as the exclusive remedy for his or her injury.

In Bennett v. St. Vincent's Medical Center, Inc., Case No. SC10-364 (Fla. July 7, 2011), the Florida Supreme Court quashed the First District Court of Appeal's decision in St. Vincent's Medical Center, Inc. v. Bennett, 27 So. 3d 65 (Fla. 1st DCA 2009) and approved the Fifth District Court of Appeal's decision in Orlando Regional Healthcare System, Inc. v. Florida Birth-Related Neurological, 997 So. 2d 426 (Fla. 5th DCA 2008), holding that in order for a "birth-related neurological injury" to occur, both the oxygen deprivation that causes the injury and the brain injury itself must occur during labor, delivery or resuscitation in the immediate postdelivery period - a period that requires ongoing and continuous efforts of resuscitation. The court also held that the statutory rebuttable presumption in favor of compensability may only be invoked by a claimant who is actually seeking NICA benefits - not a health care provider or the NICA program.

As a result of the Bennett decision, a health care provider seeking to enforce NICA exclusivity will have the burden to produce evidence (1) proving that the infant at issue suffered oxygen deprivation or mechanical injury during labor, during delivery, or during an ongoing and continuous period of resuscitation immediately following delivery, (2) proving that the infant's brain injury occurred during that same time period, and also (3) proving that the oxygen deprivation or mechanical injury caused the infant's brain injury. The health care provider will not be able to claim the benefit of the statutory presumption that a brain injury caused by oxygen deprivation or mechanical injury qualifies for coverage under the NICA plan when the timing is unknown.

Authored By
Related Industries
Health Care
©2024 Carlton Fields, P.A. Carlton Fields practices law in California through Carlton Fields, LLP. Carlton Fields publications should not be construed as legal advice on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general information and educational purposes only, and should not be relied on as if it were advice about a particular fact situation. The distribution of this publication is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship with Carlton Fields. This publication may not be quoted or referred to in any other publication or proceeding without the prior written consent of the firm, to be given or withheld at our discretion. To request reprint permission for any of our publications, please use our Contact Us form via the link below. The views set forth herein are the personal views of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the firm. This site may contain hypertext links to information created and maintained by other entities. Carlton Fields does not control or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this outside information, nor is the inclusion of a link to be intended as an endorsement of those outside sites.


The information on this website is presented as a service for our clients and Internet users and is not intended to be legal advice, nor should you consider it as such. Although we welcome your inquiries, please keep in mind that merely contacting us will not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. Consequently, you should not convey any confidential information to us until a formal attorney-client relationship has been established. Please remember that electronic correspondence on the internet is not secure and that you should not include sensitive or confidential information in messages. With that in mind, we look forward to hearing from you.