It is one thing to blog about the First DCA decisions regarding W/C from the cozy confines of my desk.  It is quite another to actually pack up your self-proclaimed “analytical skills” and take them to Tallahassee to put them to the test in front of an appellate panel.  Yesterday, I had the opportunity to do such in my very first appeal–and oral argument–in front of the Court. 

Representing the appellant, Yaska Martinez Inc. and Unisource, I was attempting to reverse the JCC’s opinion in awarding Temporary Partial disability benefits to the claimant, Mr. Oscar Chaverri.   The case number is 1D08-1724.  You can view the docket here

The basic issue I argued was that the JCC erred in relying upon the medical opinion of an unauthorized physician.  According to section 440.13(5)(e), no opinion other than that of an IME, EMA, or authorized physician cannot be considered by the JCC.  Since the unauthorized physician in my case was the only doctor to testify regarding disability, I argued that Claimant did not prove entitlement to TPD benefits by a reasonable degree of medical certainty with objective relevant medical findings, as mandated by section 440.09(1).  You can view the JCC’s Final Compensation Order here.

How did I do?  Well, in a few days the entire blogosphere can view my performance when the archived argument is posted on the First DCA website.  (I will update this post as well to include.) 

Going in, I was very nervous; fraught with a constant feeling that I could not retain enough information about my case to satisfy the Judges.   But, once I received my first question from Judge Benton, I eased into more familiar surroundings.  The panel was well prepared for my argument, and despite dreading their queries, it actually felt comforting.   It was akin to meeting three complete strangers who have the same knowledge (and much more!) of the same niche topic you’ve been obsessing for years about.  (I assume this is how fans of baseball’s sabermetrics feel when they encounter each other.)  In the end, the experience was one of the most fulfilling professional moments in my legal career.

Overall, I cannot predict what the Court’s decision will be.  Claimant made a very strong argument regarding the timeliness of the E/C’s objection to the doctor’s opinion testimony, which could tip the scales his way.   But, when the written order is released (or even a “per curium affirmed” order) I promise to be the first to post here and deconstruct for everyone’s pleasure. 

Stay tuned.

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