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Florida 1st DCA Issues Kauffman Opinion

On March 23, 2011, Florida’s First District Court of Appeals (1st DCA) issued its opinion in Kauffman v. Community Inclusions, holding that the provisions of Fla. Stat. 440.34,as amended in 2009, limit claimant attorney fee awards. In its four-page opinion, the 1st DCA rejected the plaintiff ‘s argument that Florida Statute 440.34 is unconstitutional.

In addition to the 1st DCA’s ruling that the statute in question applies to both court “awarded” fees and court “approved” fees, it also rejected the plaintiff’s challenges to the statute’s constitutionality under the legal theories of equal protection, due process, separation of powers, and access to the courts. The 2009 statutory changes to 440.34 have radically altered the Court’s rulings regarding attorney’s fees awarded and approved in workers’ compensation cases.

With whispers of an appeal on the horizon, it can be reasonably assumed that the plaintiff attorney community must hope that the Florida Supreme Court will accept an appeal and overturn the decision of the 1st DCA.

To read the opinion of the 1st DCA, please click here.

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