Big victory against Arena Football League after 2 trials

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law  Link to Trial Order


After 2 separate trials against the Arena Football League, the Trial Court ruled in our client’s favor!! Huge win that took several hundred hours of work and involved numerous doctor depositions, lying factual witnesses, and 2 depositions of the Director of player personnel for the Arena Football League in Chicago.

The trial win awarded the player 2 years of past due lost wages, more than $ 25,000.00 worth of past medical treatment the player had to get on his own, and continuing treatment for his serious injuries. The League first tried to avoid responsibility by claiming the claimant had not passed a physical, which was rejected by the Court in the first trial. In the second trial the Arena Football League a tried to avoid responsibility  by claiming their own standard football contract language was invalid.

Several coaches testified, as well as part owners of the team, the team doctor, the team trainer, and the football player himself. The claimant won the first trial , when the Court found the claimant had been injured(despite the team originally denying the videotape of the practice where the injury occurred). The Arena Football League argued their contract’s plain language was ambiguous, and that the contract wasn’t finalized until filed and signed in Illinois, which the Court rejected.

The complex case took 2 days worth of live testimony in addition to the depositions, so claimant thrilled with the big trial victory. Happy for the claimant after the Arena Football League had refused to settle, despite spending tens of thousands of dollars in Legal defense fees and costs.

The Arena Football League has appealed, but it is a clear C.S.E. case, with a solid order by the trial judge.  The amount of money spent by the League in trying to avoid responsibility is staggering, always great to see Justice prevail on these hard-fought battles. The 2 years of litigation will be extended by the League’s refusal to accept the judgment.


“Justice delayed is justice denied”, another Thursday without opinions in Westphal & Richardson

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

The Florida Supreme Court issues opinions on Thursday mornings at 11 am, and the world of Workers Compensation lawyers are glued to their screens every Thursday. There were none today, it feels like getting coal in your stocking Christmas morning.

I was forwarded some legal quotes from Lou Pfeffer, who also has a case at the Supreme Court, which I used below.


“Justice delayed is justice denied” is a legal maxim meaning that if legal redress is available for a party that has suffered some injury, but is not forthcoming in a timely fashion, it is effectively the same as having no redress at all….The phrase has become a rallying cry for legal reformers who view courts as acting too slowly in resolving legal issues either because the existing system is too complex or overburdened, OR because the issue or party in question lacks political favor.

No one has as little political power as injured workers in the State of Florida. The employers own the legislature, who pass whatever law the insurance industry & employers tell them to pass. Injured workers have no money, so they have no influence over the Legislature.

Injured workers are waiting for the final opinions of the Supreme Court in Westphal(argued in July 2014), and Richardson(briefed January 2015, the next case after the Castellanos Oral argument in November 2014).  There is rampant speculation that the Supreme Court is waiting for the Legislature to finish their Special Session on Redistricting(because the Court found the Legislature guilty of corrupting the Fair Districts Amendment) so workers rights aren’t added to it.

There may be a method to the Florida Supreme Court’s delay. If the Supreme Court stands up for the Constitutional rights of injured workers too soon, the Legislature may immediately make the Law even worse like they did during the Terry Schiavo Special Session in 2003. The Legislature has zero respect for the rule of law, nor the Constitutional rights of the middle class.

Delayed Justice has been a theme of the poor and disenfranchised going back to the Magna Carta of 1215, clause 40 of which reads, “To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice”

Martin Luther King, Jr., used the phrase in the form “justice too long delayed is justice denied” in his letter from Birmingham jail smuggled out of jail in 1963, ascribing it to a “distinguished jurist of yesteryear ”

As Chief Justice of the U. S. Supreme Court, Warren Burger noted in an address to the American Bar Association in 1970: “A sense of confidence in the courts is essential to maintain the fabric of ordered liberty for a free people and three things could destroy that confidence and do incalculable damage to society: that people come to believe that inefficiency and delay will drain even a just judgment of its value; that people who have long been exploited in the smaller transactions of daily life come to believe that courts cannot vindicate their legal rights from fraud and over-reaching; that people come to believe the law- in the larger sense-cannot fulfill its primary function to protect them and their families in their homes, at their work, and on the public streets.”

As Florida’s middle class gets decimated by the heavy- handed greed and corruption coming from the Legislature and the Executive branch that has attacked the independence of the judiciary, we can only hope and pray that the Florida Supreme Court is up to the challenge of wielding their power to protect the injured workers of Florida expeditiously.

Maybe next Thursday,,,,, Florida’s middle class waits on egg shells for justice to prevail, while belts tighten.


First District Court of Appeals ignores Constitutional challenge despite Trial Court finding

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

The First DCA ignored the pleas of the Trial Court & claimant, refusing to address the constitutional challenge that the JCC was unable to address because he was not an Article V Judge.

The First DCA panel of Benton, Clark, & Makar , per curiam affirmed the law, rather than  answer the constitutional question requested by the claimant. Case number 14-4588 was a challenge to the constitutionality of allowing employers to have absolute control over the selection of claimant doctors.

By refusing to write an opinion, the First DCA allowed the employer to pick whatever biased or incompetent doctors they want to treat claimants. In the case at Bar, the employer insisted on offering a doctor who was being sued for malpractice after paralyzing an injured worker during neck surgery. The claimant refused to treat with the offered doctor, and appealed the law that forced incompetent & biased doctors on the injured worker. It feels un-American to allow such a totalitarian system of doctor offers, yet the First DCA refused to let the case be certified through to the Supreme Court.

PCAs on workers compensation constitutional challenges damage the reputation of all courts, because it leaves the appearance of obstructionism in the public’s eyes.

A Writ of Mandamus was filed in the Florida Supreme Court to try to force the district court of appeal to write an opinion so that the claimant’s challenge could proceed to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court ruled that they were unable to force a written opinion out of the First District Court of Appeal.

Unfortunately, all Florida workers compensation appeals must go through the First District (1 0f 5) because of an arbitrary provision in Chapter 440, 440.271, which allows them to be a goalkeeper of constitutional challenges. In the specific case, they were the equivalent of a 1000 lb hockey goalie, blocking the claimant’s plea for a constitutional opinion.

Separation of Powers between the 3 branches of government require a courageous court willing to strike down bad laws passed by a special interest dominated legislature and a power crazed executive branch. When the Courts give too much deference to either, Florida loses out when the courts rubber stamp whatever corruption the Legislature decides to pass.


Cory Fairbanks Mazda & Gary Yeomans refuse to pay ex-employee WC lost wages

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

Cory Fairbanks Mazda/Gary Yeomans have added insult to injury by appealing the Order of the Court awarding lost wages to their longtime employee.

The Order of the WC trial court followed the unemployment decision that was part of the record. Instead of finally paying the benefits that were awarded to their ex-employee by 2 separate trial courts, Cory Fairbanks Mazda has chosen to delay responsibility by filing an appeal of the WC decision.

An appeal when there is CSE(competent & substantial evidence) supporting the trial court’s decision is more of a “Hail Mary” longshot which adds up to 2 years of delay to finally paying the woman her well- deserved lost wages if the order is upheld. The upside is that Cory Fairbanks Mazda/Gary Yeomans will have to pay penalties, interest and more attorneys fees for the delay if they lose.  In light of the two trials, it is conceivable that Cory Fairbanks Mazda/Gary Yeomans will pay more in appellate costs & attorneys fees than the actual amount under appeal.

An appeal of such a clear CSE Order may be legal, but will cause more harm to the former loyal employee as she waits longer for her lost wages. The perception of continued abuse of process against the injured ex-employee will be hard to shake for Cory Fairbanks Mazda & Gary Yeomans.   Whether or not the decision rises to the level of an Aguilera action has yet to be determined.

On a separate note, Cory Fairbanks Mazda was recently cited by the Federal Trade Commission for false advertising. Not much to add, the FTC’s actions speak for themselves against Cory Fairbanks Mazda.


Beat Cory Fairbanks Mazda after they fired injured worker, nice victory.

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

After a long fight and two trials, Judge ruled in injured worker’s favor. The Employer, Cory Fairbanks Mazda, had injured the worker when her supervisor hit her twice with a door, herniating discs and causing headaches. Cory Fairbanks Mazda fired the poor injured worker rather than the supervisor who caused the 2 separate injuries, and tried to deny lost wages.

Despite the enormous sums spent by Cory Fairbanks and their insurance carrier against the former employee, the injured worker was able to prevail.

What was sad was that the Unemployment judge had already ruled for the claimant a year before on the same grounds when she found “no misconduct to justify termination”. Losing the unemployment hearing wasn’t enough for Cory Fairbanks, they also tried to deny workers compensation wages.

The claimant waited another year until the workers compensation Trial Order today. Big Victory for a well-deserving claimant who didn’t deserve the abuse. Cory Fairbanks really showed their true colors with how they treated this longtime employee. The sheer animosity shown a 13 year employee was over the top. Supervisors Ault & Rhoads testified at trial against the longtime employee. A lot of time, money, and expense would have been saved if they had just treated the injured worker with some decency and compassion.

Gary Yeomans was the owner/partner who made the ultimate call and testified live against the injured worker. Yeomans is a millionaire with ownership interests in several dealerships in Central Florida, but the “everyman/injured worker” was able to stand up for herself against all the money and win based on the truth. Cory Fairbanks dug a line in the sand and went to war against one of their most loyal workers. Justice prevailed, maybe next time Gary Yeomans & Cory Fairbanks will think twice about treating one of their own so harshly.

SETTLED laborer for $ 235,000

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

Claimant was injured when a tub he was carrying slipped and knocked him down a flight of stairs. After getting Social Security Disability for the client, the insurance company was forced to accept the seriousness of the injuries, even though no surgery was required. Client was finally able to buy his own home, after being homeless at points during the workers compensation litigation. Helping him made a difference in his life and ours.

WON Social Security Disability for accountant with brain tumor

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

In a head scratcher, the federal government had denied the client benefits despite a confirmed tumor. After many filings, and getting the right forms filled out for the client by the cancer surgeon, we were able to get the benefits awarded without a hearing. Client grateful, it was tough for him to worry about testifying while undergoing cancer treatment. Glad we were able to get benefits so quickly.

GOT GRATEFUL HUG from client saved from paralysis

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

Sometimes, a hug is payment enough. Our client hired us to pursue workers compensation for his continuing back complaints. We refused a settlement offer and forced the employer too authorize an MRI and orthopedic evaluation. The client learned through the tests that he had a tumor on his spine causing his pain. We put his workers compensation litigation on hold and forced him to get the emergency surgery that saved him from paralysis. We have now settled his workers compensation case, and although it wasn’t a lot of money, his gratitude for our help was heartfelt. Even the staff got teary eyed when he explained what it meant to have our help. Helping people is first and foremost in our approach to our clients, glad for the hug.

APPEALED our 3rd Constitutional challenge to Chapter 440

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

Hardworking woman injured with two knee replacements and rating of 20%. Before the Legislative attacks by the employers in 2003, her benefits were worth 200k if not totally disabled. Under the terrible changes made by the Legislature, her benefits were worth 16k, as she wasn’t totally disabled.

We hope the First District Court of Appeals will certify the challenge straight through to the Florida Supreme Court. Our expert testified that the law in its present form is unconstitutional because it allows no benefits based on “loss of earning capacity”, which all prior versions of the Workers Compensation statute allowed. We want to change the status quo by asking the appellate courts to protect the “other 90%” who need the middle class protections of workers compensation. The Courts have to find their backbone and push back against the Legislative over reach. Judge Cueto had the vision and backbone in the Padgett order he wrote that declared the workers compensation statute unconstitutional. It is time for the appellate courts to match his courage.

SETTLED Nurse for $ 249,900

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Workers' Compensation Law

Longtime nurse for local hospital group with severe back injuries but able to work in the field. Great client who did everything right under the system, had returned to work, and had maximized his time improving his job skills while recovering. Employer decided to take a hard line and terminated claimant while he was recovering from his last surgery. Glad to see recovery for the client.