Friday, August 2, 2019

WCI Announces Board of Advisors

The Workers’ Compensation Institute announces the election of its new Board of Advisors. The Institute was founded in 1987. In 2019, it celebrates 32 years presenting the annual Workers’ Compensation Educational Conference. Founders James N. McConnaughhay and Steven A. Rissman are responsible for an incredibly diverse, extensive, and successful program each year. The WCI presents hundreds of speakers on safety, risk management, the law, medicine, and more. The WCI announces the May 7, 2019 election of the following Advisors. 

Michelle Adams is Vice President Risk Management Services for Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando. She has been with Disney since 1996 as Claims Management Director and for the last four years as Vice President. Ms. Adams earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master of Business Administration from Rollins College. 

Steve Coonrod is a partner at McConnaughhay, Coonrod, Pope, Weaver, Stern, and is the managing partner for the firm's Tallahassee office. He is a Board Certified specialist in workers' compensation law and focuses on workers' compensation defense. He serves as Litigation Manager for the Florida Workers' Compensation Joint Underwriting Association. He earned his Bachelor of Science and Juris Doctor degrees from Florida State University. 

Daniel Jaffe is a partner of Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, McLain & Mangan in their Tampa office. He has practiced workers’ compensation defense with the firm since 1997 and is a frequent lecturer at the Workers Compensation Convention and similar educational events. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Florida State University and his Juris Doctor from Nova University.   

Laure Lamy is Regional Director at Workers’ Compensation Research Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has served in that role for 7 years. Her career has included leadership roles as Vice President at HyperQuest, UniMed, ChoicePoint, and Mitchell International. Ms. Lamy earned her Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida and her Master of Arts from Florida State University. 

David Langham is Deputy Chief Judge for the Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims. He has served as a judge since 2001 and as Deputy Chief since 2006. Prior to his appointment, he practiced law with Langham & Langham. Judge Langham earned his Bachelor of Science from Ball State University and his Juris Doctor from Mississippi College School of Law. 

James McConnaughhay is one of the founders of WCI. He earned his Bachelor of Arts and Juris Doctor from Florida State University. He is also the founder of McConnaughhay, Duffy, Coonrod, Pope & Weaver in Tallahassee, Florida. He has served there for 46 years. He has served as General Chair of the WCI for 32 years. 

Frank McKay is the Chair and Chief Appellate Court Judge at the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation. He has served there for six years. Prior to appointment to the Board, he was a partner in the law firms of Stewart, Melvin & Frost and Sartain, McKay, & Cromwell. Chair McKay earned his Bachelor of Arts from Clemson University and his Juris Doctor from Mercer University. 

David North is the President and CEO of Sedgwick, Inc. in Memphis, Tennessee. He has served in that capacity for 24 years. Prior to Sedgwick he was Senior Vice President of Johnson and Higgins. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the Air Force. 

Vilma Palma-Blackmon is Senior Vice President at Gallagher Bassett Services, Inc. She has been with Gallagher Bassett since 1986 serving as Claims Manager, Regional Vice President, and for the last 15 years as Senior Vice President. 

Steven A. Rissman is one of the founders of WCI. He is a shareholder of Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, McLain and Mangan in Orlando, Florida. He has served there 47 years. Mr. Rissman earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Florida and his Juris Doctor from Florida State University. He has served 32 years as program chair of the WCI conference. 

Marc Salm is Vice President of Risk Management at Publix Super Markets in Lakeland, Florida. He has served there for 18 years, as Director and Counsel of Risk Management for 7 years, and as Vice President for 11 years. Mr. Salm earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor from Emory University School of Law. 

Jim Smith is Regional Leader of Risk Control and Safety Services for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. in Boca Raton, Florida. He has served there for 18 years. Previously, he was Vice President of the American Society of Safety Engineers, and before that was Safety and Claims Manager for the South Florida Water Management District for 18 years. 

David Stills is Vice President Global Risk Management at Wal Mart. He has served there for 17 years as Assistant General Counsel, then as Vice President for the last 15 years. Prior to that he was a partner at Kutak Rock and served as Chief Legal Officer for the Arkansas State Police. Mr. Stills earned his Bachelor of Science from University of Arkansas at Fayetteville and his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Sarasota Applications

The Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission will not meet in August, 2019. Both the live (08.12.19) and telephonic (08.05.19) meetings have been cancelled by the Chair and will be rescheduled sometime in November 2019. Update posted July 24, 2019. 

Posted July 23, 2019:

The Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission for Judges of Compensation Claims will meet in Orlando on August 12, 2019 at 1:00 p.m. at the Orlando World Center Marriott, 8701 World Center Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821 (room to be announced). The applicants for reappointment are:

Sylvia Medina-Shore (MIA)
Jack Weiss (FTM)

The applicants for the position in Sarasota are

Jessica Carrier - Sarasota, FL
Jacqueline Blanton-Steele - Sarasota, FL

Friday, April 12, 2019

Frierson/Colling Award 2019

So proud that Christopher Smith (Tampa, center) was presented with the Frierson/Colling professionalism award April 11, 2019 at the Forum at Champions Gate. Pictured with Glen Wieland (L) and Leo Garcia (R). 

Mr. Smith is a long-time advocate for injured workers. He has worked extensively with the Florida Workers' Advocates (FWA) and the Florida Bar Workers' Compensation Section. His focus has been consistently upon improving the workers' compensation community in which we all strive daily. Mr. Smith has been involved in many educational efforts including years of planning and moderating the View from the Bench program at the annual FWA conference each June. 

In a community that boasts many well-qualified attorneys, Mr. Smith is one of a very small minority that is Board Certified in workers' compensation by The Florida Bar. That is a distinction and recognition held by only 188 of all the attorneys in Florida. The Section's effort to recognize professionalism is laudable and it builds awareness of the need for professionals in our comunity. 

Last year, following the 2018 Forum, the history of the Frierson/Colling Award was discussed in this blog. It is a recent addition to the workers' compensation landscape. Recipients now include a distinguished dozen:

2008 Albert Frierson (Ft. Myers, FL)
2009 Stewart Colling (Orlando, FL)
2010 Richard Sicking (Miami, FL)
2011 Jacob Schickel (Jacksonville, FL)
2012 Herbert Langston (Orlando, FL)
2013 Ramon Malca (Miami, FL)
2014 Richard Thompson (Sarasota, FL)
2015 Richard Chait (Miami, FL)
2016 Thomas Conroy (Hollywood, FL/Las Vegas, NV)
2017 Dawn Traverso (Miami, FL)
2018 Hon. Neal Pitts (Orlando, FL)
2019 Christopher Smith (Tampa, FL)

Each of these individuals is imminently qualified for, some would say down right definitional of, this award. But looking at the list, I find it striking that there is only one female included. While there is no doubt that each of these names unquestionably belong on this list, there is likewise no doubt that there are female professionals that likewise merit inclusion. 

Prior to the Section instituting this recognition, the Workers' Compensation Institute presented an annual professionalism award named for Bud Adams. It will be my goal in coming weeks to somehow compile a list of the recipients of that award similar to the foregoing. On the shoulders of all of our historical leadership stands the practice we enjoy today. It is important that we continue to recognize the contributions and professionals whose efforts have built the foundation upon which we stand and work today.

Congratulations again to Mr. Smith. As they say, it could not have happened to a better recipient!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Change in DOAH Director

Director Bob Cohen has submitted his resignation to the Florida Governor, as Chair of the Administration Commission. There will be discussion at the March 12, 2019 Cabinet Meeting regarding how the resulting vacancy will be filled. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

New Mediator in St. Petersburg

Effective February 4, 2019, Rochelle Lefler will be the state mediator in the St. Petersburg OJCC Office. She is taking over for Judge Young as she assumes the bench in Tampa.

Most recently, Ms. Lefler has been a private mediator at Lefler Dispute Resolution Services in Tampa. She has been mediating civil, family, and workers' compensation cases; she also provided Medicare Set-Aside compliance services. Ms. Lefler has a significant background in legal practice, mediation, and workers' compensation specifically. Many will remember her previous service as a State Mediator in 2000-2001 in the St. Petersburg District. 

Ms. Lefler earned her Juris Doctor at Stetson University College of Law, and her B.A. from University of Tampa. We are happy to welcome her back to the OJCC!  

Monday, January 28, 2019

A New Inn of Court in Miami

I was very proud on January 17, 2019 to attend the inaugural dinner of the Richard Sicking Inn of Court in Miami. This is the FOURTH Florida workers' compensation inn. The movement began in Jacksonville with the E. Robert Williams Inn. Next, the William Wieland Inn was organized in Orlando. Then the The Tampa Bay Workers Compensation and Disability American Inn of Court was formed more recently. Then, in 2019 the Richard A. Sicking American Inn of Court was launched. 

I have been proud to support the Inns of Court movement for almost twenty years. It is an exceptional concept, driven by goals of professionalism and mentoring. I congratulate the Sicking Inn, and the 50 exceptional judges and lawyers that are inaugural members. I also congratulate the judges that have agreed to be honorary members, supporting the ideals and mission of the group!

Judge Sylvia Medina-Shore
Daron Fitch
Frank Garcia
Charles M. Hill
Janelys Holland
Ivan Morales
Eduardo Neret 
Virna Roa
Christine Santisteban
Richard Sicking

Judge Margret Kerr
Mercedes de los Santos
Javier Finlay
Suzanne Gorowitz
Carolina Hernandez
Ignacio Rodriguez
Robert Rodriguez 
Henry Roman 
Cory Schnepper
Mark Touby
Lorraine Young

Judge Edward Almeyda

Richard Chait
Rangel Cruz
Karen Gilmartin 
Tom Glick
Ryan Knight
Ramon Malca
Michele Ready
Richard Robbins
Mariam Yanes

Judge Walter Havers
Matthew Colon
Matthew Ferran
Leopolda Garcia 
Rhonda Lapin
Vanessa Lipsky
Ileana Marcos
Darien McMillan
Steven Miller
Salvatore Sicuso

Judge Jeffrey Jacobs
Jeanette Edwards 
James Fee
Ashley Fuxa
Gloria Garcia
Christopher Hessen
Stacey Laskin
Christopher McClure
Dawn Traverso
Mark Zientz

The honorary members are:
Judge Iliana Forte (FTL)
Judge Daniel Lewis (FTL)
Judge Keef Owens (PSL)
Judge Neal Pitts (ORL)
Judge Michael Ring (FTL)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Help Wanted St. Petersburg

State Mediator Wanted
St. Petersburg District Office

Position posted on
Vacancy is immediate. Application deadline is
January 21, 2019

Senior Attorney/State Mediator-OJCC - 72003531
Date: Jan 7, 2019
Location: SAINT PETERSBURG, FL, US, 33701

Requisition No: 51733
Agency: Division of Administrative Hearings
Working Title: Senior Attorney/State Mediator-OJCC - 72003531
Position Number: 72003531
Salary: $76,947.60
Posting Closing Date: 01/21/2019
This position is Mediator for the Judgers of Compensation Claims Office and mediates workers' compensation cases.

Must be a member of The Florida Bar for at least 5 years, must have completed a Florida Supreme Court certified circuit civil mediation program and must be certified as a circuit civil mediator by the Florida Supreme Court.

Below are examples of duties which may be assigned to this position by the supervising Judge: 

Coordinating and setting mediation conferences with the OJCC, claimants, employers, carriers and their attorneys (if represented).

Conducting mediation conferences with the parties to contested workers compensation claims in an attempt to help resolve issues and settle claims.

Answer inquiries of parties regarding the workers’ compensation adjudication process and mediation process.

Provide input for the formulation of and amendments to the rules of procedure regarding the mediation process.

Maintain accurate records regarding the disposition of claims and preparing reports required by law or deemed necessary by the assigned JCC.

Traveling, where necessary, to conduct mediation conferences.

Successful completion of Level 2 background screening is required for all positions with the Division of Administrative Hearings.

The State of Florida is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Affirmative Action Employer, and does not tolerate discrimination or violence in the workplace.

Candidates requiring a reasonable accommodation, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act, must notify the agency hiring authority and/or People First Service Center (1-866-663-4735). Notification to the hiring authority must be made in advance to allow sufficient time to provide the accommodation.

The State of Florida supports a Drug-Free workplace. All employees are subject to reasonable suspicion drug testing in accordance with Section 112.0455, F.S., Drug-Free Workplace Act.

To apply: Application must be submitted though People First at .