Harper v. SEBRING INTERN. RACEWAY, INC., No. 1D04-0191.

CourtCourt of Appeal of Florida (US)
Writing for the CourtLEWIS, J.
Citation886 So.2d 288
PartiesGeorge W. HARPER, Appellant, v. SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, INC., et al., Appellees.
Docket NumberNo. 1D04-0191.
Decision Date10 November 2004

886 So.2d 288

George W. HARPER, Appellant,
v.
SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY, INC., et al., Appellees

No. 1D04-0191.

District Court of Appeal of Florida, First District.

November 10, 2004.


886 So.2d 289
Bradley Guy Smith, of Smith, Feddeler, Smith & Miles, P.A., Lakeland; Susan W. Fox, of Fox & Loquasto, P.A., Tampa; Wendy S. Loquasto, of Fox & Loquasto, P.A., Tallahassee, for Appellant

Pat T. DiCesare, II, and Harold E. Barker, of DiCesare, Davidson & Barker, P.A., Lakeland, for Appellees.

LEWIS, J.

Claimant, George W. Harper, appeals a final order of the Judge of Compensation Claims ("JCC") in which the JCC found that claimant's heart attack was not compensable because claimant was not involved in any physical stress or exertion prior to suffering the heart attack that was non-routine to his job as a fire protection team member. On appeal, claimant essentially contends that the JCC's finding is not supported by competent, substantial evidence. We agree and, therefore, reverse the order and remand for further proceedings.

Claimant, who was sixty years of age at the time of the final hearing, testified that he had worked as a fire protection team member for the employer, Sebring International Raceway, since 1997 and had worked "in and around races" since 1969. Claimant described his position with the employer as consisting of fire protection for the raceway's customers, clean-up, maintenance, course safety, "EMS," and reconstruction of tire barriers. Claimant testified that he worked three to five days a week during the raceway's busy season, which started near the end of October and continued through March. Claimant further testified, "Basically we sit and wait for something to happen." If no accident occurred, claimant would turn his radio in, park his truck at the operations building, and return home.

886 So.2d 290
On November 23, 2001, a vehicle racing on the raceway had a suspension failure while traveling at approximately 160 miles per hour and crashed into a nine-inch-thick retaining wall. Claimant, who was one of the first fire rescue workers to arrive at the accident scene, unloaded the fire extinguishers and carried a hydraulic pump, weighing 125 pounds, and its two attachments, each weighing approximately forty to forty-five pounds, to the scene. Using the pump, claimant attempted to extricate the driver of the vehicle, who was lapsing in and out of consciousness. Due to his medical background, claimant also assisted the EMS workers with the driver. According to claimant, all four fire protection team members used the pump, i.e., the jaws of life. While some cut, others pulled the vehicle's bracing in order to extricate the driver. In total, it took claimant and the other three fire protection team members approximately forty-five minutes to extricate the driver of the vehicle. After the driver was placed into a helicopter, claimant and his co-workers began disassembling the pump, cleaning the race track, packing tools in their trucks, and filling the pump with fuel. Claimant first began experiencing unusual symptoms, including dizziness and vision problems, five minutes after the helicopter lifted off the track. After losing consciousness, claimant was rushed to the hospital, where he learned that he had suffered a heart attack. Claimant underwent a triple bypass four or five days later. Prior to this incident, claimant had been diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes, conditions for which he had been taking medication.1

With respect to the accident, claimant testified that it "was the first major accident that [he] had been involved with at the track since [he] started." Although claimant had been involved with serious accidents in the past, the accidents had occurred all over the United States while claimant was traveling with other race series. According to claimant, the EMS workers at the raceway would ask for his assistance maybe twice per year. William Berry, a fellow member of the fire protection team, similarly testified that the extrication at issue was "definitely the longest one [he had] ever worked on." The raceway's president and general manager, William Stephenson, testified that, while there are accidents "pretty much every week," drivers only had to be extricated from their vehicles "[p]robably a couple times a year." Stephenson also testified that the driver's injuries in this case were more extreme than usual.

In his order, the JCC, in noting claimant's cardiac history, found that claimant did not perform any job-related duty, any job-related task, or any job-related responsibility while aiding and extricating the injured driver from his vehicle that he had not previously performed while employed with the raceway. According to the JCC, the very nature of claimant's position required him to work as responsively and as quickly as possible to administer proper medical attention to injured drivers. The JCC determined that the standard as set forth in Victor Wine and Liquor, Inc. v. Beasley, 141 So.2d 581 (Fla.1961), overruled

886 So.2d 291
in part on other grounds by Evans v. Fla. Indus. Comm'n, 196 So.2d 748 (Fla.1967), governed claimant's claim for workers' compensation benefits due to claimant's pre-existing cardiac condition. The JCC set forth
I find that the record is devoid of any evidence that the Claimant engaged in any physical stress or exertion on November 23, 2001 that was non routine to his job with Sebring International Raceway. Though the evidence shows that the time spent aiding the driver in the crash which occurred on November 23, 2001 was of a longer period than average, I find that none of the tasks performed by the Claimant on that day were non routine to his job and were of the type performed by him on prior occasions. I find the seriousness of the accident to be irrelevant to this Court's analysis in light of the fact the tasks the claimant performed on November 23, 2001 were no different then [sic] those he performed on prior occasion with this same employer.

In light of his conclusion that claimant failed to establish that he met the initial threshold of showing a physical exertion not routine to his job, the JCC declined to address the issue of medical causation. The JCC concluded that...

To continue reading

Request your trial
3 practice notes
  • Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Perdue, No. 1D05-1672.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 9 Abril 2007
    ...all claimants have always been required to meet the applicable industrial causation standard, see Harper v. Sebring Int'l Raceway, Inc., 886 So.2d 288 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004), which post-2003 is the 50% plus major contributing cause standard, placing the additional burden of complying with the ......
  • White v. State, No. 1D03-4697.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 10 Noviembre 2004
    ...motion. Having determined that "the paperwork from the court file is inconclusive as to which charge is correct," the trial court 886 So.2d 288 ordered the State to respond to the motion. The State argued that the offer of plea form and the judgment/sentence form correctly reflect the crime......
  • Sebring Intern. Raceway, Inc. v. Harper, No. SC05-26.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 28 Abril 2005
    ...So.2d 190 SEBRING INTERN. RACEWAY, INC. v. HARPER No. SC05-26. Supreme Court of Florida. April 28, 2005. Appeal from 1st DCA 886 So.2d 288. Decision without published opinion....
3 cases
  • Coca-Cola Bottling Co. v. Perdue, No. 1D05-1672.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 9 Abril 2007
    ...all claimants have always been required to meet the applicable industrial causation standard, see Harper v. Sebring Int'l Raceway, Inc., 886 So.2d 288 (Fla. 1st DCA 2004), which post-2003 is the 50% plus major contributing cause standard, placing the additional burden of complying with the ......
  • White v. State, No. 1D03-4697.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Florida (US)
    • 10 Noviembre 2004
    ...motion. Having determined that "the paperwork from the court file is inconclusive as to which charge is correct," the trial court 886 So.2d 288 ordered the State to respond to the motion. The State argued that the offer of plea form and the judgment/sentence form correctly reflect the crime......
  • Sebring Intern. Raceway, Inc. v. Harper, No. SC05-26.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Florida
    • 28 Abril 2005
    ...So.2d 190 SEBRING INTERN. RACEWAY, INC. v. HARPER No. SC05-26. Supreme Court of Florida. April 28, 2005. Appeal from 1st DCA 886 So.2d 288. Decision without published opinion....

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