Briefly Speaking – FL Case Law Summaries

By:                    Ryan M. Knight – Miami

Contributor:   Tara Said – Pensacola

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Neal Gonzalez v. Pat Salmon & Sons of Florida

JCC Holley: Jacksonville District                                    Order Date: December 15, 2017

OJCC Case: 16-015387                                                        Date of Accident: 4/23/16

Claimant’s Counsel: Michael D. Rudolph                       E/C’s Counsel:  David R. Drill

JCC Order: Click Here  

Briefly: Permanent Total Disability – The Claimant worked as a truck driver and injured his back after he slipped and fell on the catwalk while it was raining. This fall resulted in a herniated disc at L4-5 and required an L4-S1 laminectomy and fusion. The Claimant was eventually assigned a 12% PIR and assigned “sedentary to no work” restrictions. However, the JCC ultimately determined based on the totality of the evidence that the Claimant was not permanently totally disabled.

Summary: The Claimant was well educated, including being fluent in both English and Spanish as well as having an AS degree in computer science. The Claimant presented to doctors and the JCC with a cane and describing a significant amount of pain with any movement. The JCC was shown surveillance of the Claimant running numerous errands, carrying garbage, walking with and without his cane without much limitation, standing, driving/sitting for periods longer than 15 minutes, getting in and out of his car, and meeting with friends and family for a movie as well as going to restaurants. After reviewing this video evidence along with the vocational expert testimony, the JCC determined that the Claimant was capable of performing at least sedentary duty within a 50 mile radius of his residence.

Joseph Hicks v. Ripa & Associates, LLC.

JCC Rosen: St. Petersburg District                                 Order Date: December 7, 2017

OJCC Case: 17-012639                                                       Date of Accident: 1/30/7

Claimant’s Counsel: Jason Kobal                                  E/C’s Counsel:  John G. Brady

JCC Order: Click Here  

Briefly: One Time Change – The Employer/Carrier timely authorized a one time change in physician. The physician then informed the Employer/Carrier that the initial evaluation would cost $8,000. The Employer/Carrier refused to pay that amount and immediately authorized a different physician. This physician was authorized more than five days after the request was made. The JCC nevertheless determined that the authorization was valid and the Employer/Carrier should not be punished for the unforeseen complication.

Teresa G. McIntyre v. Decision HR

JCC Walker: Panama City District                                      Order Date: December 13, 2017

OJCC Case: 17-013928                                                            Date of Accident: 4/16/17

Claimant’s Counsel: Christopher Cumberland                 E/C’s Counsel:  Matthew Bennett

JCC Order: Click Here  

Briefly: Arising Out of Employment – Claimant worked for a motorcycle dealer and was injured while attended an employer-paid motorcycle training course. The JCC determined that this accident occurred in the course and scope of employment and that the training course was not a voluntary, recreational event.

Summary: The Claimant recently began working for the employer, a motorcycle dealership. Her supervisor informed her that employees needed to have motorcycle licenses in order to work there. The employer paid for her to attend the required training course. She subsequently broke her ankle during the training. The JCC determined that the witnesses for the employer lacked credibility and were evasive on numerous issues. The JCC also determined that the employer obtained an obvious benefit from the Claimant being able to drive motorcycles. The accident was therefore deemed compensable.

Karina Santana-Benchettab v. Bank of America

JCC Spangler: Tampa District                                       Order Date: December 14, 2017

OJCC Case: 17-008115                                                      Date of Accident: 12/21/16

Claimant’s Counsel: Daniel DeCiccio                             E/C’s Counsel:  Pamela A. Walton

JCC Order: Click Here  

Briefly: Compensability (Exposure) – Claimant alleged the ongoing construction and re-modeling in the Bank’s offices created dust which was aggravating her pre-existing asthma condition. The JCC ultimately denied compensability and ruled that the Claimant did not meet the burden of showing through clear and convincing evidence that the dust caused Claimant’s injuries.  

Summary: Claimant allegedly experienced two separate asthma/allergy attacks which caused her to be hospitalized on both occasions. A significant amount of medical evidence was presented by both parties. The Claimant also testified that she travelled to Europe and Africa immediately prior to these two asthmatic attacks. Only the Claimant’s IME opined that the dust was the direct cause of the allergy/asthma attacks. The JCC determined that in order to find the accident compensable, he would have to accept the testimony of Claimant’s IME without hesitation and disregard all other testimony. As he could not do this in light of the remainder of the medical evidence, compensability was denied.