Pardon the long title of this post, but its the best way to summarize this lengthy holding recently released by the First DCA.   The entire scenario reads like a law school hypothetical exam question.  But, the reason law school professors make up those strange hypotheticals is that they can come true.  

And, in Auman v. Leverock’s Sea Food House, this strange hypothetical comes to life.

Ms. Auman was a waitress at Leverock’s (a fine dining establish near St. Pete Beach) when she first suffered a wet floor, slip and fall accident, injuring her knees.  Claimant treated and returned to work, but just 10 days later suffered a second accident, another slip and fall on a wet floor.*  This time Auman injured her elbow, fracturing the head of her right humerus (a severe injury, to say the least).

After some time, while on TTD status for her surgery to her elbow (for the second accident), MRI scans of the knees revealed a need for surgery (as related to the first accident).  The focus of litigation occurred when Auman began to run exhaust 104 weeks of temporary benefits from the second accident.

Under section 440.15, a Claimant is entitled to a total of 104 weeks of temporary wage loss benefits for each accident.  Leverock’s argued that Claimant is only entitled to one “set” of 104 weeks since the accidents were so close together.  The First DCA disagreed and found Auman to be entitled to two seperate “sets” of 104 weeks.  Since  she only used up the 104 weeks for her elbow accident, and zero for her knee accident, she was entitled to another set of 104 weeks.

The First DCA does not delve into an overlapping situation.  For example, what if Auman was taken off work for the elbow and the knees at the same time?  Would those weeks count against both sets of 104 weeks?  Luckily for the First DCA, Ms. Aumon’s fact pattern is very neat and clean.

*It should be noted how sympathetic the Court was to Ms. Auman.  In fact, the opinion chides Leverock’s for trying to stiff a loyal employee, especially an employee who returns to work and has the same wet floor, slip and fall accident as the first one:

“The statute contains no language truncating the 104-week period for the benefit of employers whose failure to deal with slippery floors leads to multiple industrial accidents.”

Ouch.  Along with Emma Murray, this shows how even appellate judges take into account personal feelings when they rule.   Something to consider when pondering your appeal.

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