Pfeffer v. Labor Ready Southeast, Inc.

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Justia Opinion Summary

This workers’ compensation case involved the statutory attorney’s fees provision declared unconstitutional in the Supreme Court’s opinion in Castellanos v. Next Door Co. Pursuant to the fee schedule in Fla. Stat. 440.34, the judge of compensation claims awarded the claimant's attorney a total of $13,017 in attorney’s fees, to be split by three attorneys, for a fee award of $50.44 per hour. The attorney for the employer/carrier, however, was paid more than $50,000. The First District Court of Appeal affirmed the statutory fee award. The Supreme Court quashed the First District’s decision, concluding that the holding in Castellanos resolves this issue. Remanded.

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Supreme Court of Florida ____________ No. SC14-1325 ____________ LOUIS P. PFEFFER, et al., Petitioners, vs. LABOR READY SOUTHEAST, INC., et al., Respondents. [April 28, 2016] PER CURIAM. This case is before this Court for review of the decision of the First District Court of Appeal in Pfeffer v. Labor Ready Southeast, Inc., 155 So. 3d 1155, 1156 (Fla. 1st DCA 2014), a workers’ compensation case involving the statutory attorney’s fee provision declared unconstitutional in this Court’s opinion in Castellanos v. Next Door Co., No. SC13-2082, slip op. at 1-2 (Fla. Apr. 28, 2016). Pursuant to the fee schedule in section 440.34, Florida Statutes, the judge of compensation claims was constrained to award a total of $13,017.80 in attorney’s fees, to be split by three attorneys that spent a total of 258.10 hours on the case, for a fee award of $50.44 per hour. The attorney for the employer/carrier, on the other hand, was paid more than $50,000. In an unelaborated opinion, the First District affirmed the statutory fee award “[b]ased on” its decision in Castellanos [v. Next Door Co./Amerisure Ins. Co., 124 So. 3d 392 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013)] and certified that its disposition passed upon the same question certified in Castellanos. Pfeffer, 155 So. 3d at 1156. We therefore have jurisdiction. See art. V, §§ 3(b)(3), (4), Fla. Const. Because our holding in Castellanos resolves this issue, we quash the First District’s decision and remand for further proceedings consistent with Castellanos. See also Richardson v. Aramark/Sedgwick CMS, No. SC14-738, slip op. at 2-3 (Fla. Apr. 28, 2016); Diaz v. Palmetto Gen. Hosp., No. SC14-1916, slip op. at 1-2 (Fla. Apr. 28, 2016). It is so ordered. LABARGA, C.J., and PARIENTE, LEWIS, QUINCE, and PERRY, JJ., concur. CANADY and POLSTON, JJ., dissent. NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION, AND IF FILED, DETERMINED. Application for Review of the Decision of the District Court of Appeal - Certified Great Public Importance First District - Case No. 1D13-4779 -2- Louis Paul Pfeffer, Jupiter, Florida, and Michael Jason Winer of the Law Office of Michael J. Winer, P.A., Tampa, Florida, for Petitioners Ronald Gray McCormick, Jr. of The Bleakley Bavol Law Firm, Tampa, Florida, for Respondents John Jacob Schickel, Jacksonville, Florida, for Amicus Curiae Workers’ Compensation Section of The Florida Bar -3-