Ascension Benefits & Ins. Solutions of Fla. v. Robinson, CASE NO. 1D16–5853

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM.
Citation232 So.3d 1178
Parties ASCENSION BENEFITS & INSURANCE SOLUTIONS OF FLORIDA and City of Orlando, Appellants, v. Russell ROBINSON, Appellee.
Docket NumberCASE NO. 1D16–5853
Decision Date27 December 2017

232 So.3d 1178

Russell ROBINSON, Appellee.

CASE NO. 1D16–5853

District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

Opinion filed December 27, 2017

Richard B. Robbins and Theodore N. Goldstein of Rissman, Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, McLain & Mangan, P.A., Orlando, for Appellants.

Charles H. Leo of Law Offices of Charles H. Leo, P.A., Orlando, and Richard W. Ervin, III, of Fox & Loquasto, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellee.


In this workers' compensation appeal, the Employer/Carrier (E/C) raise two issues on appeal and Claimant raises three on cross-appeal. We affirm all issues with the exception of the award of surgery challenged by the E/C, which we reverse as discussed below.


Claimant's compensable injuries came about as a result of repetitive trauma involving both hands and both elbows. In 2016 a disagreement arose between Claimant's authorized treating physician and Claimant's independent medical examiner (IME) as to the nature of the treatment needed to address Claimant's compensable injuries. Claimant filed a motion outlining that disagreement, which resulted in the appointment of an expert medical examiner (EMA). Among other questions posed to the EMA, the JCC asked that he opine as to what reasonable and medically necessary treatment was needed for Claimant's compensable hand and upper extremity injuries.

The JCC, in the order under review, found that Dr. Rayhack, the EMA, "agreed that surgery on the residual lateral epicondylitis and for release of the trigger fingers would be reasonable," and "that there is no clear and convincing evidence to reject the medical opinions of Dr. Rayhack with regards to the reasonableness of the requested surgeries being awarded." Alternatively, the JCC found that Dr. Rayhack's opinion regarding surgical releases, when considered in its totality, was inconclusive. Nevertheless, the JCC found, based on the opinions of both Dr. Rayhack and Claimant's IME, that the surgical releases of the elbow and trigger fingers were reasonable and medically necessary. The E/C maintain on appeal that, in awarding the surgeries, the JCC misinterpreted the EMA's opinion. Rather, argue the E/C, the EMA's opinion was that the surgeries were not necessary nor recommended.


Where the JCC's findings are called into question as not consistent with the evidence, this court reviews for abuse of discretion. See Ullman v. City of Tampa Parks Dep't , 625 So.2d 868, 873 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) ("The role of this court must be to guard against fanciful or arbitrary abuse...

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