After facing weeks of criticism because of Florida’s troubled unemployment system, Deloitte Consulting LLP said in a newly filed court document that it has had “no connection” to the online system in more than five years.
Deloitte filed the document Monday in Leon County circuit court as it and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity argue for the dismissal of a potential class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of residents who have faced trouble getting benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Deloitte had a state contract to develop the CONNECT unemployment system, which began operating in 2013.
“Deloitte has had no involvement in the implementation, maintenance or upgrade of the CONNECT system for more than five years,” the company’s attorneys wrote in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. “And it has never had any involvement in processing or adjudicating the state’s unemployment benefit claims, including during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite plaintiffs’ frustrations given the current circumstances, a private software consulting firm is an improper target for claims arising from denied or delayed unemployment benefits. Simply put, Deloitte should not be in this case.”
Deloitte and the Department of Economic Opportunity have faced a torrent of criticism since the pandemic shut down major parts of the economy in March, creating an unprecedented crush of people seeking jobless benefits. The CONNECT system was not able to handle the surge of applications, forcing the state to scramble to try to shore up the claims process —— and leading Gov. Ron DeSantis to describe CONNECT as a “jalopy.”
The potential class-action lawsuit, filed in late April in Leon County circuit court, blames the department and Deloitte for problems with the CONNECT system, which cost $77 million. The lawsuit makes a series of allegations, including negligence and products liability.“Defendant (Deloitte) breached its duties by failing to design, create, distribute and/or sell a system that was safe when used in a reasonable and foreseeable manner,” the plaintiffs’ attorneys argued in part of the lawsuit dealing with products liability. “In other words, defendant sold the RA/CONNECT (Reemployment Assistance/CONNECT) system despite its defective condition and/or allowed the system to flow through the stream of commerce to plaintiffs, the system’s end users.”
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