TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — For nearly a year Gautier Kitchen has attempted to take DEO and Deloitte, the company behind Florida’s unemployment system, to trial.
“Florida has an unemployment system, it does not work and people are not being paid in a timely manner. That is the crux of this case,” said Kitchen, a trial lawyer and co-lead counsel on the lawsuit.
Last year, a judge dismissed the case he filed with attorney Marie Mattox, but without prejudice, which allowed them the opportunity to revise the suit and try again.
“We beefed up the facts because the facts had changed,” Kitchen said. “Basically the pain and the despair has gotten deeper and has gotten wider and gotten higher.”
Kitchen says out-of-work Floridian’s are no longer facing the possibility of eviction they’re already out. He says some can’t buy medication or feed their families.
“We had one client that had to exchange diapers for his infant so that he could afford food for his kids,” he said.
And while he says the system has been faulty since its conception in 2012 — in 2020 when COVID-19 hit, “That was the canary in the coal mine, the bellwether, the onslaught tsunami if you will, that really pulled back the curtain publicly speaking.”
But the DEO and Deloitte continue to argue for dismissal. They say the judicial branch can’t tell the executive branch how to execute the law.
The state says it’s protected by sovereign immunity and the unemployment insurance funds are not held in a trust which means it doesn’t have a fiduciary commitment.
“The real question now is the judge has to make a decision and he has not ruled yet onto the people of Florida get their day in court?”Kitchen said.
He anticipates a decision from the judge on if the lawsuit will move forward within a week.