Florida Supreme Court denies review of workers’ comp attorney fee appeal
Many in the Florida workers’ compensation community have awaited the Florida Supreme Court’s decision in Jennifer Kauffman v. Community Inclusions, Inc. et al. Several months ago the Claimant, Jennifer Kauffman (“Kauffman”), petitioned the Florida Supreme Court to accept jurisdiction to hear an appeal of the First District Court of Appeal’s March 2011 decision.
Kelly M. Fisher of Fisher Law Group had the privilege of defending Guarantee Insurance and its Insured in this momentous appeal. Attorney Fisher filed a jurisdictional brief on behalf of Guarantee Insurance and its Insured, urging the Florida Supreme Court to deny jurisdiction to accept Kauffman’s appeal.
Previously, Attorney Kelly M. Fisher successfully defended Guarantee Insurance and its insured in Kauffman’s appellate challenge to Florida’s 2009 workers’ compensation attorney’s fee statute. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the Judge of Compensation Claims’ decision limiting the Claimant to a statutory guideline attorney’s fee based on the amount of workers’ compensation benefits secured. See previous article here.
In 2009, the Florida Legislature amended Florida’s workers’ compensation attorney's fee statute (F.S. §440.34) to eliminate hourly attorney's fees for dates of accident on or after July 1, 2009. Instead, Florida’s Legislature mandated that all attorney’s fees be based on the total amount of benefits secured. Kauffman’s case presented the first appellate challenge to this new statute.
On July 27, 2011, the Florida Supreme Court rendered its decision in this precedent setting case. The Florida Supreme Court agreed with Attorney Fisher and declined to accept jurisdiction to hear Kauffman’s appeal. The Supreme Court’s refusal to accept jurisdiction upheld the First DCA’s decision affirming Judge Spangler’s award of a guideline statutory attorney's fee to Kauffman.