Workers’ Compensation Win

Posted in Verdicts and Settlements on March 22, 2022

Esther Ruderman, a workers’ compensation partner in our West Palm Beach Office, and Diane Tutt, an appellate partner in our Hollywood Office, were successful in a significant workers’ compensation case involving a teacher whose leg fell asleep while sitting on a chair in the classroom, causing him to fall when he got up, sustaining injury. 

Ms. Ruderman was successful in obtaining a favorable ruling from the Judge of Compensation Claims, who found, based on the medical evidence, that the Claimant failed to prove occupational causation by competent substantial evidence.  The JCC noted that there was no evidence presented that the Claimant sat or stood any differently than he would in his non-employment life, and the Claimant testified that he did not stand abruptly.  The IMEs on both sides testified that the Claimant’s leg going to sleep could have happened at any time, at work or not, and that it was caused by nerve compression. 

The Claimant appealed and Ms. Tutt successfully defended the appeal.  The First District Court of Appeal wrote a 20-page opinion, analyzing occupational causation, including the “increased hazard” test, noting that it was merely fortuitous that the Claimant’s leg fell asleep at work.  Sitting in a chair at work met the “but for” test, but that was not the predominant cause, considering the medical evidence that the numbness he experienced, caused by nerve compression, could have happened after sitting on anything, even a toilet.  Simply put, there was nothing about the work environment (no hazard) which caused the Claimant to fall.