Coplin v. State, Dept. of Health and Rehabilitative Services, 92-1560

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation627 So.2d 1282
Parties18 Fla. L. Weekly D2609 Peggy COPLIN, Appellant, v. STATE of Florida, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, AAS and Risk Management, Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 92-1560,92-1560
Decision Date09 December 1993

Page 1282

627 So.2d 1282
18 Fla. L. Weekly D2609
Peggy COPLIN, Appellant,
SERVICES, AAS and Risk Management, Appellees.
No. 92-1560.
District Court of Appeal of Florida,
First District.
Dec. 9, 1993.

Debra H. Pierce of Lloyd, Hoskins & Pierce, P.A., Fort Pierce, for appellant.

Kennie L. Edwards of Beisler & Beisler, West Palm Beach, for appellees.


In this worker's compensation appeal, claimant Peggy Coplin appeals the order of the Judge of Compensation Claims (JCC) denying her claim for further medical goods and services and denying her claim for wage loss benefits from December 1, 1988 through August 14, 1989. We affirm in part, reverse in part and remand.

Claimant raises three issues on appeal: (1) whether the JCC erred in denying wage loss benefits due to the untimely filing of the

Page 1283

claim; (2) whether the JCC erred in determining that claimant was not entitled to wage loss benefits because claimant was not assigned a permanent impairment rating in accordance with the American Medical Association (AMA) Guides; (3) whether the JCC erred in denying authorization for medical goods and water therapy on the ground that claimant had attained maximum medical improvement without permanent impairment. Having carefully considered each of the issues we find no merit to appellant's arguments with respect to the second and third issues and affirm the JCC's order as it pertains to these issues. The first issue, however, merits discussion.

While working for appellee Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), claimant sustained two industrial accidents on a rainy day, July 7, 1988. While exiting the building claimant descended three or four steps and slipped, falling on her hands and knees. Claimant went back into the building and advised a secretary that she had fallen. Upon exiting the building a second time, claimant again fell on the same steps. Claimant fell on her posterior with her left leg bent back and her right leg extended forward. Claimant was off of work for two or three weeks because of these falls. Claimant received workers' compensation benefits during these two or three weeks and was treated by Dr. Sullivan, an orthopedic surgeon. Claimant returned to work for about a week and a half, during which time her knees were still swollen and she experienced pain and limping. After the week and a half of work, claimant left work again to have back surgery related to a prior automobile accident.

In August 1988, claimant left for New Jersey to have back surgery. Claimant received post surgery treatment from Dr. Sullivan who did not allow claimant to return to work until December 1988. Claimant worked only one day and found that she could not perform her job. Claimant felt forced to resign at that time. Claimant's supervisor testified that claimant stated that she resigned because she could not perform her job duties after coming back from surgery. The supervisor further stated that claimant never mentioned, either orally or in her letter of resignation, that her resignation was in any way related to her knee injury. Claimant, herself, admitted that she could not work between August and December 1988, because of her back condition.

Claimant tried working as a substitute teacher but found that she could not do that either. Claimant searched for work to no avail. Claimant then sought vocational rehabilitation assistance at a community college. Claimant found work with the Census Bureau from May 1989 through June 1989. This position, too, was difficult for claimant who had difficulty getting in and out of cars. Because of this difficulty, claimant called the adjuster in her worker's compensation claim seeking further medical attention, since Dr. Sullivan was leaving town. The adjuster authorized Dr. Davidson, an orthopedic surgeon, but made no mention of wage loss and temporary partial benefits.

Claimant testified that her back improved dramatically after surgery, but her knees are even more painful since she stopped taking medication for her back. Dr. Sullivan treated claimant for her knee problems and Dr. Davidson prescribed physical therapy. Claimant testified that her left kneecap moves, pops and swells, that she sometimes has to walk stairs sideways, and that she limps. Claimant said her low back is affected by her awkward gait, and that her knee exercises also cause flare-ups in her low back.

After treating with Dr. Sullivan and Dr. Davidson, claimant realized that she needed more education in order to improve her job opportunities. Claimant advised the adjuster that she would be attending Temple University in Philadelphia and needed to see a doctor in that area. The e/c authorized Dr. Kain. The adjuster did not inform claimant of the need to file temporary partial or wage loss forms until February 1990.

Dr. Davidson saw claimant on three occasions between 6/21/89 and 8/15/89. Dr. Davidson diagnosed patellar femoral syndrome although a diagnosis of chondromalacia would also be consistent with claimant's symptoms. The difference between the two diagnoses is that chondromalacia implies actual

Page 1284

damage to the sliding surface of the kneecap, whereas patellar femoral syndrome does not. An accurate diagnosis, however, can be determined only by operating on the patient. Dr. Davidson detected crepitus 1 in each kneecap on the second visit, but felt this was not abnormal. Davidson also noted a degree of "catching" of the kneecap, attributable either to "maltracking" or roughness in the back of the kneecap. Dr. Davidson opined that claimant had reached MMI without any permanent...

To continue reading

Request your trial
2 cases
  • Thompson v. City of Jacksonville, 92-3783
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 4 d3 Janeiro d3 1995
    ...... does not automatically entitle claimant to wage loss benefits." Coplin v. State, Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Servs., 627 So.2d 1282, 1285 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993). The judge of compensation claims properly considered all the evidence, including medical evidence, even though he conclud......
  • Alpizar v. Total Image Beauty Salon, 93-640
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 31 d2 Janeiro d2 1995
    ...the circumstances. Davis v. Broward County Health Department, 570 So.2d 371 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990); see also Coplin v. State, Dept. of HRS, 627 So.2d 1282, 1286 n. 2 (Fla. 1st DCA 1993) (citing Williams Roofing, Inc. v. Moore, 447 So.2d 968, 972 (Fla. 1st DCA 1984)). Examining the present fact......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT