After what one can only imagine was a Labor Day weekend filled with fun, sun, and insane games of beer pong, the Florida Supreme Court has come roaring back from its summer break. Up on the oral arguments calendar for this week are two cases sure to be of far reaching impact.

The one that even a passive observer of state-related current events is familiar with is Scott v. George. This case centers on the 2011 changes to the Florida Retirement System (FRS), passed in Senate Bill 2100, that force state workers to contribute 3% of their salary to the FRS, and that eliminate the cost of living adjustment to FRS members after retirement.

The challengers of the law, who won at the trial court (the case was certified by the 1st DCA to be of great public importance), argue that the revisions impermissibly impair the contract rights of state workers, that the law violates the limits on government taking of private property, and that allowing the state to unilaterally alter the terms of employment for state workers violates the right that state workers have to collectively bargain under Art. I., sec. 6 of the Florida Constitution. The appellants who are defending the law contend that it only operates from the date of enactment, and so does not violate the contract clause. Consequently, appellants argue that there is no taking implicated. Finally, appellants assert that the right of state workers to collectively bargain is controlled by the legislature’s power to appropriate and spend money, and is in any case not limited so much by this bill as to violate the state constitution.

The second case is Phillip Morris USA v. Douglas. That case is significant because of all the money and cigarette product liability litigation that is at stake. Following class action litigation that lasted well over a decade, numerous findings were made with respect to the conduct of major tobacco companies, such as their concealing the danger of their products and conspiring to conceal the nature of cigarettes. The crux of this matter will be a decision on which findings will be applicable to future tobacco plaintiffs, and which will not be precluded from further litigation.

The oral argument calendar for the week can be found here.

Retirement and Cigarettes – Back to Work After Labor Day

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