Our Constitutional challenge Certified as case of Great Public Importance!

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Uncategorized

The Florida Supreme Court docketed the Richardson case and labeled it “Of Great Public Importance”. Case number 14-738 was ordered to file our Initial Brief on 11/7/2014 after the Oral argument in the Castellanos case on 11/5/2014.

Retired Judge Richard Ervin helped write the challenge to the workers compensation fee caps. The insurance industry has used the fee caps as a weapon to suppress workers compensation claims while they pocket excess profits. The Initial brief was filed on 12/1/2014.

The data we put in the trial record conclusively proved the injustice of the rigid fee caps as they were used to confiscate the time, energy and talents of the claimant’s bar. The chilling effect of the fee caps caused a 60% drop in aggregate injury claims over a 10 year period, allowing the insurance industry to wage a war of attrition on the smaller claims. When a claim cannot be economically pursued, it makes the benefits given by the statute largely illusory and encourages wrongful denials by adjusters.

A level playing field will reduce litigation, because the law in it’s present form rewards insurance & employer lawyers for excessive litigation tactics against injured workers.

We are hopeful the Supreme Court will push back against the Legislative attacks on inherent judicial authority under a separation of powers approach that allows injured workers and their lawyers to be rewarded for their industry.

Won Summary Final Order against uninsured employer

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Uncategorized

Wealthy uninsured contractor decided to ignore subpeonas and court ordered mediations. The Court struck his defenses and awarded $65,000 worth of lost wages, medical treatment, and over $ 36,000 worth of attorney fees and costs. Although the prosecutor refused to charge the employer with the clear crime of failing to have WC insurance, the money collected will go a long way towards satisfaction.

Filed new Constitutional challenge for School principal

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The adjuster in the trial had refused to offer a satisfactory doctor based upon the draconian medical provisions that the Special Interests had placed in the law. Appealed the Judge’s ruling where he was forced to follow the law as written, but used the Padgett case as part of the Constitutional challenge to ask for appellate relief from the abusive adjuster tactics. The adjuster deliberately offered doctors that he knew were unsatisfactory to the claimant just to force the injured worker to burn his onetime change. Hopefully, the appellate courts will realize how un-American it is to force workers to treat with bad doctors.

Won Merit hearing for a tow truck driver

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Injured tow truck driver was threatened by his employer to drop his case, and than the WC adjuster refused to pay benefits for almost 10 months. After a trial where the employer and supervisor testified against the claimant, the Judge ruled that lost wages were payable for the bulk of the time the WC adjuster & employer had refused to follow the law. Injured worker found justice after a long fight through many hurdles as the employer tried to avoid their responsibility.

Castellanos Certified to the Florida Supreme Court

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Uncategorized

The First District Court of Appeals showed some courage and backbone recently in the case of Castellanos. The panel of Padavano, Benton, & Van Nortwick affirmed the lower court but agreed that the questions regarding the Constitutionality of the Workers Compensation fee provisions should be decided by the Florida Supreme Court.

Castellanos is big news, because many in Florida have felt the First District Court of Appeals had been obstructionist by refusing to allow the constitutional challenge to make it through to the Florida Supreme Court. The Appellate courts are appointed by the Governor, and many thought they wouldn’t have the courage and backbone to do the right thing by the injured workers of Florida.

The politics of the Special Interests who run Florida are against the middle class protections that were built into the original workers compensation law in Chapter 440. HB 941 was passed in 2012 allowing the Special Interests to keep over 200 million dollars worth of excess profits earned by denying injured workers Access to Courts, so expect a huge push back from the corrupt against the Castellanos decision. HB 941 abolished the law that mandated excess profits be returned to policyholders.

Our present Appeal, cited as the companion case/similar case to Castellanos, is still at the 1st DCA being briefed. It will be interesting to see if the courage of the 1st DCA withstands the pressure of the Special Interests, as we are asking for similar reief in our case.

Recertified by The Florida Bar for the 3rd time

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Uncategorized

Charles Leo received confirmation today that he was recertifed for the 3rd time in Workers Compensation. Charles Leo has been continuosly Board Certified in Workers Compensation since 1998.

Board Certified Lawyers have met the Florida Bar’s highest standards for special knowledge, skills, proficiency, professionalism and ethics in the practice of law. No matter how much experience a lawyer may have in workers compensation law, only Board Certified Workers Compensation lawyers are allowed to identify themselves as specialists or experts in the area of law.

To become Board Certified, a lawyer is required to:
*practice law for at least 5 years
*devoted at least 30% of his time to the practice of Workers Compensation
*tried a minimum of 25 contested workers compensation cases
*been evaluated for competency, ethics, professionalism by judges & peers
*completed 45 hours of Continuing legal education
*passed a written examination demonstrating knowledge, skills and proficiency in the field of workers compensation law to justify the representation of special competence in this area of law to the legal profession and to the public.

Board Certification is valid for 5 years, during which time the attorney must continue to practice law and attend education courses. Recertification requirements are similar to the initial certification.

At any given time, approximately 220 lawyers in all of Florida are Board Certified in Workers Compensation, with less than half of those representing injured workers. Hire an expert for your Workers Compensation injury.

Westphal En Banc opinion reverses panel of 3

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Uncategorized

The panel of 3 Judges who struck the 104 week cap on Temporary Total disability has been reversed by the “en banc” ruling, where every 1st DCA judge has a vote on the issue. The en banc ruling puts the 104 week cap back in place, but closes the donut hole by allowing Permanent Total Disability benefits to be awarded once the 104 weeks runs out, regardless of MMI, as long as claimant is still totally disabled.

Although disappointed that the en banc didn’t uphold the original Constitutional ruling, seeing a window of fairness for workers who burn through their 104 weeks while trying to heal was positive.
The dissents were the most distressing, because they showed which Judges feel Legislative power is more important than protecting the Court’s own power to insure fairness in the laws passed by the Legislature. None of the sitting Judges on the First DCA were ever Board Certified in Workers Compensation, so their firsthand understanding of the employers & insurance companies’ scorched earth tactics during litigation is limited.

Filed Constitutional Challenge to Statute 440 with 1st DCA

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Uncategorized

An Appeal has been filed with the First District Court of Appeals challenging the Constitutionality of the draconian fee provisions passed by the State legislators corrupted by the Insurance Companies. The Special Interests who dictate to the politicians seem hellbent on destroying the Constitutional rights of the weakest members of society. The Special Interests are terrified of workers having a level playing field against employers and insurance companies.

Under the current law, insurance companies can spend an unlimited amount of money defending every claim, unfettered by statutory limitations. Unfortunately, the same Employers & Insurance companies wrote the law that their lapdogs in the Legislature passed verbatim. The law severely limits injured workers’ rights, including limiting workers’ Access to courts and violating the Separation of Powers by putting caps on what Judges can award in fees to workers’ lawyers.

Although the District Court of Appeals deferred on our Motion to certify our appeal to the Supreme Court, we are hopeful it will be sent up once the panel reviews the Motion. It only takes one panel of Judges to have the requisite character and courage to stand up for their own powers to strike down bad laws passed by a corrupt legislature.

There has been a steady erosion of workers’ rights under the Special Interest rule. However, during a recent Oral Argument in the Castellanos case, it appeared that Judge Padavano had enough vision to see the hypocrisy of allowing Insurance Companies to wage a war of attrition against injured workers. Florida is hopeful that the panel in Castellanos has enough guts to certify the question to the Supreme Court of Florida and not rollover in the face of the Legislature’s over reach.

If the Court has the courage to certify in Castellanos, Floridians’ confidence may get restored. Ever since the resignation of the 1st DCA’s Chief Judge while under investigation of a complaint of bias, the 1st DCA’s image has suffered. Striking a blow for fairness in the Workers Compensation Court system would go a long way to restoring the reputation of all Courts.

Won Workers Compensation Trial over Temporary Total Disability

Written by Charles Leo on . Posted in Uncategorized

A woman who was severely injured while working for a well known food service and uniform company was refused benefits by the Workers Compensation carrier. Despite winning Social Security Disability for the woman as a result of the severe injury, the Employer and Insurance company refused to pay Temporary Total disability for several months, even though the Doctor they authorized took the woman totally out of work. At the trial, the employer finally agreed to pay the remaining benefits owed under the law while boosting her weekly pay by over $ 100.00 per week. Penalties and interest were also assessed against the Employer/Ins. for the delay and late payment. Glad to see some justice served.