Friday, April 6, 2018

Six Florida Judges Reappointed

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the reappointments of six Judges of Compensation Claims:

Judge Eduardo Almeyda, 71, of Miami, has served as a Judge of Compensation Claims for the Miami District since 2013. He previously served as a mediator for the State of Florida, as an adjunct professor for Nova Southeastern University School of Law, and in private practice. Almeyda received his bachelor’s and law degrees from Florida State University.

Judge Robert Dietz, 59, of Sebastian, has served as a Judge of Compensation Claims for the Melbourne District since 2014, and also teaches at Barry University School of Law as an adjunct professor. He previously was in private practice and specialized in mediation and workers’ compensation. Dietz received his bachelor’s degree from Eckerd College and his law degree from Vanderbilt Law School.

Judge Iliana Forte, 52, of Miami, has served as a Judge of Compensation Claims for the Fort Lauderdale District since 2014. She previously worked for the City of Miami and was in private practice. Forte received her bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Miami.

Judge David Langham, 53, of Gulf Breeze, has served as a Judge of Compensation Claims for the Pensacola District since 2001, as has also served as Deputy Chief Judge of Compensation Claims since 2006. He is an adjunct instructor for Pensacola State College, and previously was in private practice. Langham received his bachelor’s degree from Ball State University and his law degree from Mississippi College School of Law.

Judge Neal Pitts, 63, of Orlando, has served as a Judge of Compensation Claims for the Orlando District since 2009, and previously was in private practice. Pitts received his bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College, master’s degree from the University of Florida, and law degree from Ohio Northern University.

Judge Margaret Sojourner, 64, of Orlando, has served as a Judge of Compensation Claims for the Orlando District since 2010, and previously was in private practice. Sojourner received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florid and her law degree from Stetson University College of Law.

Gainesville and Tallahassee Judges Named

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced the appointments of Jacquelyn L. Newman and Timothy S. Stanton as Judges of Compensation Claims for the Tallahassee and Gainesville Districts.

Newman, 47, of Tallahassee, is an attorney with Pennington, P.A. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and her law degree from Florida State University. Newman fills the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Lazarra in the Tallahassee District.

Stanton, 60, of Alachua, is a mediator with the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings. He received his bachelor’s degree from Florida Atlantic University and his law degree from the University of Florida. Stanton fills the vacancy in the Gainesville District.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Help Wanted - Mediators

State Mediators Wanted

Position posted on
Vacancy is immediate. Application deadline is
March 14, 2018

Senior Attorney/State Mediator-OJCC

Date: Feb 28, 2018

Location: GAINESVILLE, FL, US, 32608 (Requisition No: 31122; Position Number: 72003557)

Location: SARASOTA, FL, US, 34243 (Requisition No: 31123; Position Number: 72003594)

Agency: Division of Administrative Hearings

Working Title: Senior Attorney/State Mediator-OJCC - 72003557

Salary: $76,947.60

Posting Closing Date: 03/14/2018


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.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Nominees for Tallahassee Announced

The Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission for Judges of Compensation Claims met February 26, 2017 in Orlando. It recommended the reappointment of the following judges:

Robert Dietz (SEB)
Iliana Forte (FTL)
David Langham (PNS)
Margaret Sojourner (ORL)

The commission also nominated the following for the position in Tallahassee:

Stephen Andrews - Tallahassee, FL
Jacquelyn Lewis Newman - Tallahassee, FL
Todd Sanders - Tallahassee, FL

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Harassment in the News

Harassment is being discussed in many contexts. The March Hotseat webinar will attempt to address perspectives on harassment and how managers can deal with allegations in the workplace. 

Register here - Thursday, 29 March 2018, at 2:00 PM

Some interesting harassment stories:

February 28, 2018

#MeToo isn't too late for Monica Lewinsky

#MeToo spurs investors to move money to companies that support women

It’s Time For The #MeToo Movement To Start Talking About Children

#MeToo on Main Street: Small businesses can't overlook workplace harassment

February 25, 2018
Practicing law in the time of #MeToo

#MeToo And You

How men can show solidarity with the #MeToo movement

State AGs Unite For #MeToo Movement, But Changing Federal Law Could Be Slippery Slope

Monday, February 5, 2018

Tallahassee Candidates Announced

The Statewide Judicial Nominating Commission for Judges of Compensation Claims will meet in Orlando on February 26, 2017 at 9:00 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport, 9300 Jeff Fuqua Blvd, Orlando, Florida, USA 32827. The applicants for reappointment are:

Robert Dietz (SEB)

Iliana Forte (FTL)
David Langham (PNS)
Margaret Sojourner (ORL)

The applicants for the position in Tallahassee are

Jacquelyn Lewis Newman - Tallahassee, FL
Michael Peterson - Orlando, FL
Stephen Andrews - Tallahassee, FL
Todd Sanders - Tallahassee, FL
William Gwaltney - Tallahassee, FL

More details here

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Comp Laude Award Nominees

At the end of October, the Comp Laude Awards will convene in San Diego. It promises to be an informative educational program, and there is a great deal of chatter about it out there on social media. I understand that there are still seats available. I was told recently that registrations already exceed any previous Comp Laude, so a record audience is expected (don't tell anyone I told you).

In addition to the educational component, the Comp Laude honors various individuals for their contribution to the world of workers' compensation. In April I blogged about the nominations opening. An image listing all 172 nominees and the finalists (called the "honor roll") has been posted on social media, and on the WorkCompCentral website. Two things strike me about the nominee list. First, it is huge. 

I ran across a tweet regarding the list of nominees. Someone was questioning why more people from a particular geography were not on the nominee list. The easy answer was Comp Laude provides the nomination forms and the platform, but it is up to you to make the nominations. If you are troubled that people from your: (1) industry, (2) geography, (3) philosophy, (4) specialty or even (5) company are not listed, make a note and nominate them yourself next year. 

Since I could not find a list of just the finalists, I decided to publish one. They include (apologies in advance for typos or omissions):

Dorothy Albrecht - Sedgwick
Jill Allen - Consumer Health Connections
Carolyn Arambula - Injured Worker
Beverly Brown, RN, - Genex
Darrell Brown - Sedgwick
Brock Carter - Safety Counselling Inc.
Dr. Jennifer Christian - Webility Corp.
Jess Clyde - Erie Insurance
Jeanette Connelly - Health E Systems
Craig Hospital
Michelle Elder - Sedgwick
Rachel Fikes - Rising Medical Solutions
Debra Fox - Five Star Quality Care
Kayla Frederick - Injured Worker
Chris Garland - Gallagher Bassett
Paul Gaspar - Physical Therapist
Kimberly George - Sedgwick
Russell Ghitterman - Ghitterman, Ghitterman, Feld, et. al.
Alan Gurvey - Rowen, Gurvey & Win
Cheryl Hayes - Health E Systems
Maria Henderson - Kids Chance California
Kate Henschem - Ascent Return to Work Plans
Barry Hinden - Hinden and Breslavsky
Kenny Hosack - Craig Hospital
Abbie Hudgens - Tennessee Bureau of Workers' Compensation
Robert Keefe - Keefe and Griffiths
Sharon Kelly - Rockwell, Kelly, Duarte and Urstoeger
Judy Ko - ACM
Gerald Lenahan - Lenahan, Lee, Slater and Pearse
Danielle Lisenbey - Broadspire
Joseph Molloy - Northwell Health
Keith More - Bentley and More
Shauna Nielsen - Sedgwick
James O'Brien - Gallagher Bassett
Mark Pew - Prium
Mark Popolizio - ISO Claims Partners
Elizabeth Robinson - Coventry
Jeremy Romero - Injured Worker
Mark Sidney - Midwest Employers Casualty
Nina Smith - Mitchell International
Tyrone Spears - City of Los Angeles
Julie Swan-Paez - Inured Worker
Texas Mutual Insurance Company
Marques Torbert - Ametros
Dawn Traverso - Eraclides, Gelman, Hall, Indek, et. al.
Dr. Nick Tsourmas - Texas Mutual Insurance
Dawn Watkins - Los Angeles Unified School District
Ruth Williams - Coventry

I know a great many of these nominees personally. There are also approximately ten people on this list that have never been in a selfie with Rafael Gonzalez (but their day is probably coming soon, he is presenting at Comp Laude). There are workers, claims professionals, lawyers, doctors, and a variety of other industry experts on the list. It seems to me to be very diverse, and everyone that was nominated should be proud that someone thought enough of their efforts to make the nomination. The finalists should likewise be proud of this Honor Roll recognition. 

As I congratulate all of the nominees, I am sure of two things. First, David DePaolo would be proud of the growing interest in Comp Laude and this long list of nominations. Second, there are a great many people in workers' compensation who are worthy of praise and recognition; certainly this list is a start, but there are far more out there. So, next April (just remember when its Tax Day, the nominations are probably open) keep your eyes open for announcements and nominate someone that you believe is worthy of Comp Laude recognition. 

Your nominee need not be "Batman" (read my post from last April), but they need to have done "Something good." There is not a person reading this post that does not know someone in that category.  See you soon in San Diego!