Lawyers file emergency injunction to get unemployed paid immediately
A day after a Florida circuit court judge dismissed a motion to get unemployment payments out faster, the plaintiffs’ lawyers said the fight isn’t over.
They’ve come up with a new avenue, hoping to convince a new judge to get emergency relief to the unemployed immediately.
Mike Barody is one of hundreds of thousands of Floridians lost in the unemployment system.
“I just want to talk to someone. I’m happy to withdraw my application and reapply. If that’s the best thing to do, I just need to talk to someone,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tallahassee attorneys Marie Mattox and Gautier Kitchen said they’re working on Plan B to get him – and everyone else – the help they need.
“The system is broken and they have repeatedly said, even made an argument yesterday, that they were doing the best they can do,” Mattox said. “But as we said yesterday during the hearing, it’s too little too late.”
Judge Angela Dempsey on Wednesday dismissed their request to order the state to make payments immediately.
“The court found that there was discretion on the duties that were required by law,” Mattox said. “How can there be discretion, when the law says ‘you shall do’ XYZ? And that’s our problem.”
They plan to appeal the decision.
“The unfortunate part in that is it takes so much time and people need help right now,” Kitchen said.
At the same time, Mattox and Kitchen continue to push their class-action lawsuit to recover damages for negligence.
They amended their complaint on Thursday to include more elements, including breach of contract and whistleblower allegations against the Department of Economic Opportunity, and Deloitte, the company that built the Florida unemployment system.
“Officials with the Department of Economic Opportunity, in conjunction with Deloitte, were sitting back laughing, mocking people who were applying for unemployment, and talked about them being lazy,” Mattox said. “We have whistleblowers who will testify about that.”
They also want a judge to issue an emergency injunction based on the amended complaint, again demanding payment as soon as possible.
“That is to make them again do what they’re supposed to do under the law,” Mattox said.
Mattox and Kitchen said they hope their emergency injunction can be heard as early as next week, and they’re confident that this time, the outcome will be in their favor.
WINK News reached out to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office and the DEO for comment but so far, no one has gotten back to us.
Deloitte sent the following statement:
“Florida is a state in which Deloitte has made significant investments to strengthen the economy and contribute to the communities in which thousands of our professionals live and work. We care deeply about our Florida clients and the people they serve. We built the CONNECT system to comply with Florida’s specific requirements and the state accepted the system. When we completed our work in 2015, CONNECT was vastly outperforming the systems it replaced and accurately processing reemployment assistance claims faster than ever before. All IT systems require ongoing maintenance, and since Deloitte has not worked on CONNECT in five years, we do not know how, or even if, the technology has been maintained. What we do know is that other IT systems we developed are performing well during this unprecedented surge in demand, and we are currently working collaboratively with several states to provide critical benefits to millions of workers and their families.
“Clearly, any lawsuit involving us would have no merit.”
Attorneys Gautier Kitchen and Marie Mattox say people affected by unemployment system issues can submit their information to be included in the class-actions at www.payfloridaworkers.com.
She also updates the FAQ: Unemployment Resources page as information is received.