October 19, 2021

Dysfunctional Couple Deloitte and the State of Florida Share a Victory In Court

On the same day Deloitte Consulting executives were taking haymakers from Florida senators during a hearing on the recent failures of the state’s unemployment system that the firm built, Deloitte and the state of Florida scored a win in the courtroom as a circuit judge threw out a class-action lawsuit against the toxic couple over that very same unemployment system.

The News Service of Florida reported:

A Leon circuit court judge has dismissed a potential class-action lawsuit against the state and Deloitte Consulting stemming from the meltdown of Florida’s online unemployment compensation system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Judge John Cooper, for the second time in less than six months, said plaintiffs could not overcome legal hurdles to pursue the case against the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity and Deloitte, a contractor that helped put in place the CONNECT online system in 2013.

After dismissing the case in September, Cooper allowed the plaintiffs to file a revised version. But he wrote Monday that the “nature of the plaintiffs’ claims in the (revised version) are unchanged from their previous complaint; the clear constitutional defects and other deficiencies in those claims have not been addressed.”

In part, Cooper wrote that the lawsuit is barred by the separation of powers between the judicial and executive branches of government.

Among other things, Cooper also cited sovereign immunity, which helps shield government agencies from lawsuits. He wrote that sovereign immunity also extended to Deloitte because it “acted at the state’s direction and control in assisting with the design and implementation of the CONNECT system.”

Deloitte Consulting finished building the CONNECT system in 2015, and the firm claimed it was “vastly outperforming the systems it replaced and processing claims more efficiently and accurately than ever before.” In 2015, Florida’s unemployment rate was 5.5%. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, Florida’s unemployment rate skyrocketed from 4.3% in March 2020 to 12.9% in April 2020. And as thousands of newly out-of-work Floridians were trying to file claims for unemployment benefits and receive payments during the pandemic, the website kept crashing.

Once Deloitte started taking heat for the unemployment system it built, the firm went from saying how efficient it was to “you can’t blame us, we’ve had nothing to do with it for five years.” In fact during Monday’s hearing, Deloitte Consulting executives stressed to lawmakers that they had no idea why the system failed, beyond the fact that it was overwhelmed with claims. I don’t know about you but I find it really hard to believe that a Big 4 firm in which advisory/consulting services brings in more than half of its revenue in the U.S. can’t troubleshoot why a system that it built wasn’t working properly.

But Deloitte’s handiwork (or lack thereof) didn’t stop the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration from awarding Deloitte Consulting a contract potentially worth $135 million to overhaul Florida’s Medicaid data system.

Anyway, with the class-action lawsuit against Big D and the state of Florida thrown out, it’s just another example of how hard it is to defeat the Big 4 in the court of law.

Deloitte execs: Meltdown of unemployment system we built wasn’t our fault [Miami Herald]
Judge tosses out lawsuit against Florida, Deloitte over flawed unemployment website [News Service of Florida]

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