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Briefly Speaking – FL Case Law Summaries (6/9/17)

TUMBNAIL - Briefly Speaking 150

By:                    Ryan M. Knight – Miami

Contributor:   Tara Said – Pensacola

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May 2017 Attorney Fees & Costs Orders

Maria Arciniega v. Dade County School Board

JCC Medina-Shore: Miami District                   Order Date: May 9, 2017

OJCC Case: 14-019085                                            JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Mario Arango                    Hourly Fee Awarded: $350 per hour

Summary: Claimant’s Counsel alleged 161.2 hours were expended obtaining authorization of a one-time change in physician and payment of medical bills for prior treatment; thoracic MRI; neurological consultation; and pain management treatment. The verified fee petition requested $56,420 in fees based on the 161.2 hours and a rate of $350/hr. The Employer/Carrier argued that only 66.4 hours were expended and a rate of $200-250/hr was more appropriate. The JCC determined that 120.9 hours were expended and that a reasonable rate was $300/hr. Claimant’s Counsel was awarded $36,270.


Dolores Bartsch v. Quality Cleaners

JCC Winn: Pensacola District                         Order Date: May 9, 2017

OJCC Case: 88-002459                                    JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Woodburn Wesley      Hourly Fee Awarded: $250 per hour

Summary: The JCC applied the Lee Engineering factors and determined that Claimant’s Counsel reasonably expended 10.9 hours of attorney time and 4.6 hours of paralegal time in securing benefits. The reasonable hourly rates were set at $250 and $100 respectively for a total of $3,185.


Reginald Hill v. Fields Appliance Service

JCC Anderson: Daytona Beach District              Order Date: May 8, 2017

OJCC Case: 17-003894                                            JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Mark Nation                      Hourly Fee Awarded: Statutory Fee Only

Summary: The Claimant agreed to a settlement of $35,000.00 inclusive of attorney fees of $8,750.00 (25% based upon the contract of representation). Claimant’s Counsel submitted an attorney fee affidavit which indicated that 13.2 hours were expended during the course of litigation. That amounted to $662.87 per hour. JCC Anderson determined that amount was unreasonable despite the agreed upon Miles agreement. Claimant’s Counsel was awarded a statutory fee of $4,250 and the remaining $4,500 was remitted to the Claimant.


Ricardo Martinez v. DS Waters of America

JCC Almeyda: Miami District                               Order Date: May 8, 2017

OJCC Case: 13-014451                                             JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Robert Wells                     Hourly Fee Awarded: $250 per hour

Summary: Claimant’s Counsel alleged 15.8 hours were expended in obtaining $1,150.97 worth of benefits. JCC Almeyda determined that the 2.9 hours expended regarding Claimant’s failure to respond to a request to produce should not be included. Claimant’s Counsel was therefore awarded $3,225 based on 12.9 hours of work at $250 per hour.


Milovan Zekanovic v. American II

JCC Rosen: St. Petersburg District                     Order Date: May 17, 2017

OJCC Case: 15-014324                                           JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Joey Oquist                      Hourly Fee Awarded: $275 per hour

Summary: Claimant’s Counsel alleged 49.6 hours were expended in litigating a one time change in physician issue. The Employer/Carrier contended that only 22 hours of those hours were reasonable. JCC Rosen determined that the 39.7 hours expended by the attorney for the Employer/Carrier, equate to the hours that should have been spent by the attorney for the Claimant. As such, Claimant’s Counsel was awarded $10,917.50 based on 39.7 hours at $275 per hour.


Michael Matonti v. Marine Max 

JCC Beck: Sarasota District                                     Order Date: May 23, 2017

OJCC Case: 10-022014                                             JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Michael Cantrell                Hourly Fee Awarded: $225 per hour

Summary: JCC Beck determined that 81.9 hours were reasonably expended during the course of the claim. However, the total benefits paid out on the claim only amounted to $433.27. A statutory fee would have amounted to only $5.29 per hour which is unreasonable and as such, Claimant’s counsel was awarded $18,570 in attorney fees, based on the 81.9 hours and 1.9 paralegal hours.


Michael Wilbanks v. Southwest Airlines

JCC Massey: Tampa District                                 Order Date: May 30, 2017

OJCC Case: 14-020568                                           JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Bradley Smith                   Hourly Fee Awarded: $250 per hour

Summary: Claimant’s Counsel successfully secured $49,536.81 in benefits for the Claimant. The JCC determined that the $5,703.68 statutory fee was unreasonable based on the 134.3 hours expended during litigation. The JCC therefore awarded $33,575 based on an hourly rate of $250 per hour.


Connie Minor v. Cory Fairbanks Mazda

JCC Sculco: Orlando District                              Order Date: May 30, 2017

OJCC Case: 13-027369                                          JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Charles Leo                      Hourly Fee Awarded: $295 per hour

Summary: JCC Sculco found that $295 per hour was reasonable for a board certified attorney when taking into account the complexity of the Employer/Carrier’s misconduct defense. Claimant’s Counsel reasonably expended 276.55 hours during the course of litigation. The Employer/Carrier was ordered to pay $81,582.25 in attorney’s fees.


Antonio Brooks v. Express Employment Professionals

JCC Winn: Pensacola District                               Order Date: May 31, 2017

OJCC Case: 15-023940                                          JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Ryan Barnett                     Hourly Fee Awarded: $200 per hour

Summary: The JCC found Claimant’s Counsel reasonably expended 9.4 hours of attorney time and 2.2 hours of paralegal time to obtain a one time change in physician. The Employer/Carrier was ordered to pay $2,045 in fees based on $200/hr for attorney time and $75/hr for paralegal time. ( It should be noted that in the above listed Bartsch case, the same JCC awarded a higher rate of $100 per hour for paralegal time.)