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Briefly Speaking – FL Case Law Update (4/6/18)

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Attorney’s Fees & Costs Orders

Daniel Ruiz v. All Florida Brick Corp.

JCC Medina-Shore: Miami District                     Order Date: March 1, 2018

OJCC Case: 15-024327                                         JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Ivan Morales                      E/C’s Counsel: Kurt Wirsing

Hourly Fee Awarded: $375/hour for Partner and $325/hour for Associates

Summary: Counsel for the Employer/Carrier stipulated to fee entitlement for procuring an adjustment of average weekly wage, attendant care benefits, and authorization of an epidural steroid injection. The JCC also determined that claimant’s counsel was entitled to a fee for obtaining reimbursement of numerous medical bills. In total the JCC awarded claimant’s counsel $59,660.50 based on hourly fee of $375 per hour for Attorney Morales and $325 per hour for his associates.


Belinda J. Gardner v. The S2 HR Group, LLC d/b/a/ PEO

JCC Beck: Sarasota District                               Order Date: March 5, 2018

OJCC Case:  16-024799                                        JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Eric M. Christiansen          E/C’s Counsel: Starlene D. McGory

Summary: The Employer/Carrier prevailed at final hearing and claimant was denied all benefits. The Employer/Carrier then moved for an award of taxable costs. The majority of these costs were associated with various expert witness conferences. The JCC found that the conferences with experts who did not testify at the final hearing were not taxable. However, fees incurred from conferences with authorized doctors who later testified at Final Hearing were taxable at the statutory rate of $200 per conference. The Employer/Carrier was awarded taxable costs in the amount $869.01.


Rigoberto Mercado v. American Airlines

JCC Almeyda: Miami District                             Order Date: March 7, 2018

OJCC Case:  17-004349                                        JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Toni Villaverde                   E/C’s Counsel: David Gephardt

Hourly Fee Awarded: $300/hour for Partner and $225/hour for Associate

Summary: Claimant’s counsel is entitled to an attorney fee because a prescription for Celebrex was not authorized until four months after the prescription was written. The JCC found that claimant’s counsel spent 43.3 hours procuring authorization for the prescription. The Employer/Carrier was ordered to pay claimant’s counsel $12,345 based on hourly rate of $300 for partner time in $225 per hour for associate time.


Robert L. Davis v. Sonesta International Hotels

JCC Lewis: Fort Lauderdale District                    Order Date: March 8, 2018

OJCC Case:  16-020237                                        JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Mark E. Tudino                  E/C’s Counsel: Andrew R. Borah

Hourly Fee Awarded: $300 per hour

Summary: Claimant’s counsel failed to file a verified fee petition after being compelled to do so by the JCC. Counsel for the Employer/Carrier contended that claimant’s counsel was therefore precluded from any fee whatsoever. The JCC however, rejected this argument. The JCC found claimant’s counsel was entitled to a fee for securing authorization for a weight loss program and a nutritionist. The JCC determined claimant’s counsel spent 10 hours procuring this benefit and awarded an hourly rate of $300 per hour which would result in a $3,000.00 fee. The JCC did however impose a sanction on Claimant’s counsel for not complying with the Order and imposed a sanction of $1,000. Claimant’s counsel was therefore only due $2,000 of the total $3,000 fee.


Jack A. Watts v. Virgil Nacchio

JCC Anderson: Daytona Beach District              Order Date:  March 14, 2018

OJCC Case:  89-002199                                        JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Robert J. Trumbo               E/C’s Counsel: John E. McLain

Hourly Fee Awarded: $250 per hour

Summary: Counsel for the Employer/Carrier stipulated fee entitlement for obtaining authorization for physical therapy. The JCC also awarded fees for obtaining authorization for a pain management physician even though the Employer/Carrier did not “actively resist” the claim for authorization because Claimant’s Counsel was instrumental in getting the Employer/Carrier to “focus on the issue.” The JCC awarded fees in the amount of $4,750 based on 19 hours at $250 per hour.


Carlos Lira v. Morton’s Steakhouse

JCC Massey: Tampa District                              Order Date: March 16, 2018

OJCC Case: 08-016629                                      JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Bram Gechtman                E/C’s Counsel: David J. Gerhardt

Hourly Fee Awarded: $375 per hour

Summary: Claimant’s Counsel was successful at an initial final hearing in 2009 and obtained compensability of cervical injuries as well as certain past medical and indemnity benefits.  The First DCA affirmed the findings of compensability but remanded the case for further proceedings regarding past medical bills.  Another final hearing ensued in 2013 regarding the same medical bills and claimant’s counsel was again successful in obtaining those benefits.  Both parties conceded that the value of the benefits obtained were de minimis, totaling just $265. Because claimant’s counsel was successful in obtaining those benefits through extensive litigation, the Employer/Carrier was ordered to pay an attorney fee in the amount of $26,962.50 based on 71.9 hours at $375 per hour.


Thomas Albritton v. Burns and Sons Aluminum, Inc.

JCC Humphries: Jacksonville District                 Order Date: March 23, 2018

OJCC Case:  13-027853                                          JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Lance F. Avera                  E/C’s Counsel: Don W. Allen

Hourly Fee Awarded: Unknown

Summary: Counsel for the Employer/Carrier failed to file a response to Claimant’s Verified Fee Petition. The JCC therefore awarded Claimant’s Counsel the full $5,083 requested in the Fee Petition.


Roland Crejuste v. Power Concrete, Inc.

JCC Hedler: West Palm Beach District               Order Date:  March 28, 2018

OJCC Case: 15-011183                                           JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Philip J. Feldman               E/C’s Counsel: K. Kay Dodd

Hourly Fee Awarded: $1,277.44 (Stat Fee) & $300 (Hourly Fee)

Summary: Claimant’s counsel was successful in obtaining benefits valued at $967,248.90. The statutory fee on that amount was $97,474.89 which is equivalent to an hourly rate of $1,277.44. The JCC found this fee was reasonable and rejected the Employer/Carrier’s request to apply downward deviation. Additionally, because the Employer/Carrier challenged claimant’s counsel’s entitlement to said fee, the JCC also awarded claimant’s counsel an hourly fee for prosecuting the claim for attorney’s fees. Claimant’s counsel was awarded an additional $22,500 based on 75 hours at a rate of $300 per hour.


Walter Lee v. Regeneration Technology, Inc.

JCC Humphries: Gainesville District                   Order Date: March 28, 2018

OJCC Case:  03-015897                                        JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Anthony J. Salzman          E/C’s Counsel: Richard B. Robbins

Hourly Fee Awarded: $275 per hour

Summary: Claimant’s Counsel sent the Employer/Carrier a letter on May 11, 2017 requesting mileage reimbursement in the amount of $46.46. After no response was received, Claimant’s Counsel filed a PFB seeking the same mileage reimbursement on August 10, 2017. The Employer/Carrier failed to mail the check to the Claimant’s proper address despite three separate notifications of the correct address until September 1, 2017. Despite the check being issued within 30 days of the PFB, the JCC awarded fees and costs because the benefit was not paid until three months after the initial request. Claimant’s Counsel was awarded a fee of $2,887.50 based on 10.5 hours at $275 per hour.


Devonne S. Stith v. Integrity Health Services

JCC Sojourner: Lakeland District                       Order Date: March 28, 2018

OJCC Case:  16-023152                                           JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: Thomas A. Vaughan          E/C’s Counsel: Adam M. Gill

Hourly Fee Awarded: $275/hour for Partner and $240/hour for Associates

Summary: The Employer/Carrier asserted that a statutory fee of $400 in total was reasonable. Claimant’s counsel argued that a fee of $14,430 was appropriate based on the complexity of the case. The JCC ultimately determined that claimant’s counsel was entitled to a fee in the amount of $8,862.50 based on 28.3 hours at $275 per hour and 4.5 hours at $240 per hour.


Richard Faria v. Bayonet Point Health and Rehabilitation Center

JCC Rosen: St. Petersburg District                     Order Date:  March 29, 2018

OJCC Case:  10-007153                                         JCC Order: Click Here

Claimant’s Counsel: William H. McKnight          E/C’s Counsel: W. Rogers Turner

Hourly Fee Awarded: $300 per hour

Summary: The Employer/Carrier stipulated to fee entitlement however they disagreed as to be amount of the hourly fee. The JCC ultimately determined that based on the complexity of the case, an hourly fee of $300 per hour was appropriate. Claimant’s counsel was awarded $5775 based on 19.25 hours.