Artigas v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc.

Decision Date10 August 1993
Docket NumberNo. 91-4179,91-4179
Citation622 So.2d 1346
Parties18 Fla. L. Week. D1774 Estrella ARTIGAS, as Guardian for Miguel Artigas, Appellant, v. WINN DIXIE STORES, INC., and Crawford & Company, Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Shayla Freeman Simmons of Lancaster & Eure, P.A., Sarasota, for appellant.

Frank L. May and Nancy A. Lauten of Fowler, White, Gillen, Boggs, Villareal & Banker, P.A., Tampa, for appellees.

WOLF, Judge.

The appellant in this case, Estrella Artigas, as guardian for her son, Miguel Artigas, challenges a final order of the judge of compensation claims (JCC) which denies claims for payment of certain medical bills. The order found that as a matter of law, the claims for these bills were not timely filed nor timely litigated. The JCC stated that the bills were for services provided prior to the date of the last final hearing and, therefore, he lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. We determine that questions of fact existed as to the application of the doctrine of res judicata, and that the JCC erred in determining that he lacked subject-matter jurisdiction. We, therefore, reverse and remand for further proceedings to determine whether the claimant may proceed with his claim for payment of medical bills.

The claimant was injured in the course and scope of his employment on August 9, 1983. Although the original injury was a spinal injury, the claimant began developing related psychological problems. The JCC determined that the psychiatric condition was related to the compensable injury. Appellant's attorney withdrew sometime in 1986. In July of 1987, at a hearing where the claimant represented himself, all claims for benefits were denied based on a lack of evidence. In August 1987, a new attorney requested that the merits order be vacated and that he be given an opportunity to proceed in circuit court to obtain a guardian for claimant. Despite being aware of claimant's condition and having previously ruled that claimant was unable to represent himself, the JCC denied the request. This order was appealed. On May 25, 1989, in Artigas v. Winn-Dixie Stores, Inc., 544 So.2d 1051 (Fla.1st DCA 1981), (Artigas I), this court found that the JCC erred in refusing to determine the competency of the claimant, and that the claimant should have been permitted to proceed to circuit court to have a guardian appointed. At some point, while the appeal was pending, a guardian had been appointed. The record does not reflect when the guardian was actually appointed.

During the period between the July 1987 hearing and the decision of this court in Artigas I, the claimant incurred medical expenses. Hospitalizations occurred from September 2, 1987, through December 9, 1987, and from April 18, 1988, through May 27, 1988. Certain doctors' bills related to the mental illness were also incurred during this time period. While partial payments were made as to some of these bills, it is unclear from the record before us when the bills were sent, who received the bills, or who made the partial payments. A hearing was held on July 20, 1989, at which time the JCC set the date of the claimant's maximum medical improvement, awarded temporary total disability benefits from that date, awarded permanent total disability benefits, and awarded compensation for attendant care furnished by the claimant's parents. 1 The claim for payment of the medical bills was not raised at this hearing.

A claim for the disputed medical bills was first filed on May 1, 1991. The employer-/carrier (E/C) denied the claim. This decision was upheld by the JCC, who determined that no factual evidence should be presented because the claim for payment of medical bills was ripe at the earlier, July 1989, hearing and, therefore, the present litigation of the claim was not timely. The JCC also ruled that the bills were not timely claimed pursuant to section 440.13(2)(d) which requires submission to the E/C within 14 days of treatment. No specific factual findings concerning prejudice or good faith were made as to either issue.

We first discuss the question of whether the claim for medical bills was timely litigated in light of the failure to raise this claim at the July 20, 1989, hearing. Generally, claims for compensation benefits should be determined at a benefits hearing if they are mature because piecemeal litigation of claims after maturity is not permitted. Hunt v. International Minerals and Chemical Corp., 410 So.2d 640 (Fla.1st DCA 1982), and Florida Power and Light Co. v. Haycraft, 421 So.2d 674 (Fla.1st DCA 1982). Therefore, compensation claims which are not timely litigated may be waived by application of the doctrine of res...

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8 cases
  • Thomas v. Eckerd Drugs
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • August 15, 2008
    ...DCA 2002) (quoting Boynton Landscape v. Dickinson, 752 So.2d 1236, 1237 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000) (citing, e.g., Artigas v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., 622 So.2d 1346 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993))). However, where a claim is based on newly discovered evidence, it cannot barred for failure to raise it at an e......
  • Shell v. Schwartz, No. 08-16450 (11th Cir. 12/17/2009)
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eleventh Circuit
    • December 17, 2009
    ...unclear from the record or application of the doctrine would contravene strong public policy. See Artigas v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., 622 So.2d 1346, 1347-48 (Fla. 1st Dist. Ct. App. 1993) (holding that the doctrine of res judicata was improperly applied in workers' compensation case becaus......
  • Olmo v. Rehabcare Starmed/Srs
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • May 31, 2006
    ...considered waived, and later litigation is precluded by application of the doctrine of res judicata. E.g., Artigas v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., 622 So.2d 1346 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993); Department of Transportation v. Greene, 599 So.2d 1368 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992); Florida Power & Light Co. v. Haycraf......
  • Correa v. Miami Airport Hilton
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • April 22, 2002
    ...of res judicata." Boynton Landscape v. Dickinson, 752 So.2d 1236, 1237 (Fla. 1st DCA 2000),citing, e.g., Artigas v. Winn Dixie Stores, Inc., 622 So.2d 1346 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993); Department of Transp. v. Greene, 599 So.2d 1368 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992); Florida Power & Light Co. v. Haycraft, 421 So......
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