Court ponders attorney fees in worker cases

TALLAHASSEE — In an issue watched closely by business, labor and trial-lawyer groups, the Florida Supreme Court weighed the constitutionality of limits on attorneys’ fees in workers-compensation insurance cases.

Justices heard arguments Wednesday in a case that stemmed from injuries suffered in 2009 by a South Florida man, Marvin Castellanos, during an altercation with another worker at their employer, Next Door Company. After a dispute about a workers-compensation claim, a judge approved $822.70 in benefits for Castellanos — and a $164.54 fee for his attorney.

The fee was based on a formula in state law. But Castellanos’ attorneys contend that a change made in 2009 to the law can lead to such small fee amounts that it is unconstitutional. In part, they argue that injured workers’ “access to courts” is hampered because lawyers might not take cases without the possibility of more pay.

Entire Article: .pdf | Orlando Sentinel