6 So.3d 674 (Fla.App. 1 Dist. 2009), 1D08-2971, Lanza v. Damian Carpentry, Inc.
|Citation:||6 So.3d 674, 34 Fla. L. Weekly D 574|
|Opinion Judge:||PER CURIAM.|
|Party Name:||Marcos LANZA, Appellant, v. DAMIAN CARPENTRY, INC. and FCCI Insurance Group, Appellees.|
|Attorney:||Kimberly A. Hill of Kimberly A. Hill, P.L., Fort Lauderdale, and Richard E. Zaldivar, Miami, for Appellant. Cora Cisneros Molloy and Scott A. Beatty of Henderson, Franklin, Starnes & Holt, P.A., Fort Myers, for Appellees.|
|Judge Panel:||KAHN, THOMAS, and ROBERTS, JJ., concur.|
|Case Date:||March 13, 2009|
|Court:||Florida Court of Appeals, First District|
Claimant challenges the Judge of Compensation Claims' (JCC) order enforcing the parties' agreement to settle Claimant's case for $17,500, inclusive of attorney's fees and costs, arguing the essential terms of the agreement were not reached. We affirm.
Claimant's accident occurred on December 21, 1999. Claimant hired Richard Zaldivar as his attorney and filed a petition for benefits (PFB) in 2004. In response, the Employer/Carrier (E/C) denied all benefits based on the expiration of the statute of limitations. The E/C never rescinded their denial and no benefits were paid to Claimant.
The record indicates that during settlement negotiations, Zaldivar made an offer to settle the claim for $17,500, inclusive of fees and costs. The E/C accepted the offer.
After the parties reached settlement, Zaldivar provided a " breakdown" of the settlement funds to the E/C. He requested that the E/C create documents indicating a settlement of $11,750, with a $10,000 payment to Claimant (of which $1,750 was to be designated as a " statutory" fee), along with a separate stipulation for fees paid by the E/C in the amount of $5,750. At no time prior to reaching the settlement agreement of $17,500, inclusive of fees and costs, did Zaldivar discuss a separate stipulation for fees to be paid by the E/C.
Because Zaldivar did not secure any benefits for his client (the sole legal basis for a fee payable by the E/C), the E/C did not agree to draft documents in the manner requested. Zaldivar then requested that the E/C rescind their statute of limitations defense so as to give the appearance that he obtained " benefits" and provide justification for a fee payable to him by the E/C. The adjuster refused and sent the $17,500 to Zaldivar, indicating he was free to reach an agreement with his client for the fees he desired.
The E/C filed a motion to enforce the settlement agreement and the JCC...
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