July 2014 News from the OJCC

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The following was reported by Judge Langham’s official Florida Workers’ Comp Blog:

Filing Volumes Increased in 2014
The State’s fiscal year concluded June 30, 2014. The OJCC is now in fiscal year 2015. The work has begun to tabulate various statistics and there will be a long audit process as numbers are checked and rechecked. However, the initial figures indicate that petition for benefit filing increased in 2014 by approximately 2%. New case filings also increased in 2014 according to the initial figures, about 3%, returning almost to 2011 volumes. These are the first increases in cases and petitions since 2008-09.

Changes in Pensacola Mediation Procedures
Mediator Wallace Hardy will retire at the end of July. This will leave Pensacola without a full-time mediator. Effective August 1, 2014 Pensacola mediations will be covered telephonically by Eddie Oramas in Panama City district.  The staff Panama City will monitor for petition filings and schedule mediations on all Pensacola cases. Panama City staff will generate and upload notices of telephonic mediation, and the resulting mediation conference reports. If the Pensacola office staff receives a notice of cancellation or notice of voluntary dismissal or uploads a settlement order or uploads an order allowing private mediation, then the Pensacola staff will inform the Panama City staff of the change so that they can adjust the appointments on Mr. Oramas’ calendar. Parties wishing to reschedule a mediation should contact the Panama City District Office directly. Parties should coordinate their attendance at mediation with Mr. Oramas. Any and all parties are welcome to come to the Pensacola District Office to attend mediation, and can call the Panama City office from there.

Temporary Trial Assignments in District MIA

The MIA district remains one judge short. As a result of that absence, other judges have been covering trials in Judge Castiello’s division. Until further notice, all active GCC division cases in District MIA will be overseen by the following judges:

Judge Almeyda – All case numbers beginning with “14-”
Judge Medina-Shore – All case numbers not beginning with “14-” and ending in either “1” or “2”
Judge Kerr – All case numbers not beginning with “14-” and ending in either “3” or “4”
Judge Rosen – All case numbers not beginning with “14-” and ending in either “5” or “6”
Judge Massey – All case numbers not beginning with “14-” and ending in either “7” or “8”
Judge Charles Hill –  All case numbers not beginning with “14-” and ending in either “9” or “0”

This will hopefully provide practitioners with predictability regarding their upcoming trials. In situations where more than one case number is currently active for a particular injured worker, the judge handling the combination of the multiple cases is based upon the last digit of the lowest of the Claimant’s active case numbers. For example, if a Claimant has case number 13-xxxxx5 and 12-xxxxx9, the case would be handled by Judge Hill because the lower case number ends in “9.”

E-filing Reminder and Tip

How do you properly file attachments to PFBs? Typically the attachment is a medical record and some attorneys insist on filing them as a “Pleading” and naming it “Support for PFB” or “Medical Records in support of PFB #2,” when they could quite simply file using the “Medical/Exempt Records” selection in eJCC which also asks to which PFB the document is supposed to be attached. The docket code would be MR instead of PF if filed correctly.

Vacancies on the Statewide Nominating Commission
The Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission for Judges of Compensation Claims is comprised pursuant to Fla. Stat. §440.45. There are three categories of members. Some members are appointed by The Florida Bar, some members are appointed by the Governor, and some members are appointed by the other members of the Commission. Two vacancies have occurred following resignations from the Commission. The appointees for each must reside in the Fourth District Court of Appeal jurisdictional area (Broward County, Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach County and St. Lucie Counties). One is a Governor appointment, with the remainder of the current term expiring July 2015. The second is a Commission appointment, expiring June 30, 2017. Applications for each are on the OJCC website, under the Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission tab, or email david.langham@doah.state.fl.us for further information. “No attorney who appears before any judge of compensation claims more than four times a year is eligible to serve on the statewide nominating commission.” Fla. Stat. §440.45.

The Annual Survey is Concluded

The annual survey regarding Judges and Mediators was conducted in April. It was sent to all attorneys who are either members of the Workers’ Compensation Section or registered users of the e-JCC electronic filing system. The results are available on the OJCC website, www.fljcc.org. If you have ideas or suggestions for changes in the methodology or content of the survey, please email them to david.langham@doah.state.fl.us or communicate them to leaders of the Section such as Christopher Smith (chris@cjsmithlaw.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) or William Rogner (wrogner@HRMCW.com). There will be a meeting of the OJCC survey committee on Tuesday, August 19, 2014 at the WCI in Orlando. Anyone wishing to discuss the survey is welcome. The time and location will be announced in a blast email in early August.

Read more from the story on his site.

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