Wohlgamuth v. Central Maintenance & Welding

Citation600 So.2d 514
Decision Date11 June 1992
Docket NumberNo. 90-1552,90-1552
Parties17 Fla. L. Weekly D1501 Mark WOHLGAMUTH, Appellant, v. CENTRAL MAINTENANCE & WELDING and Auto Owners Insurance Co., Appellees.
CourtFlorida District Court of Appeals

Dennis A. Palso, Frank Hamilton & Associates, P.A., Tampa, for appellant.

Judith J. Flanders, Lane, Trohn, Clarke, Bertrand & Williams, P.A., Lakeland, for appellees.

ON MOTION FOR REHEARING OR CLARIFICATION

JOANOS, Chief Judge.

The opinion of this court in the above-styled case dated June 14, 1991 is hereby withdrawn, and the following opinion substituted therefor.

Mark Wohlgamuth has appealed an order of the judge of compensation claims denying a claim for wage loss benefits based on an inadequate job search. The judge also declined to award wage loss benefits based on deemed earnings, citing a lack of evidence as to the amount Wohlgamuth could have earned absent the inadequate search, and Wohlgamuth's failure to show that the compensable injury resulted in a loss of wage earning capacity. We reverse and remand for further findings.

Wohlgamuth is a 50-year old man who attended school for 12 years, but did not graduate. His only work experience has been in heavy construction, and in jobs requiring physical labor. In 1988, while employed by Central Maintenance, Wohlgamuth suffered a herniated disc when he fell into a drain. He had surgery in January 1989, and reached maximum medical improvement on April 18, 1989 with a 10% permanent impairment. He was released to full-time, light duty employment, with absolute medical restriction against prolonged sitting and standing, stooping, kneeling or squatting, or the lifting of any weight over 25 pounds.

Wohlgamuth worked with a rehabilitation provider after his release to work, and the employer/carrier paid benefits until August 1, 1989. No benefits were paid thereafter, the employer/carrier citing the lack of a good faith work search and the refusal of proffered employment. The record shows that, in August 1989, Wohlgamuth made numerous job contacts, primarily by telephone. Thereafter, although the rehabilitation provider made intensive effort toward finding Wohlgamuth a job, he himself did little toward that end. He concedes that, after mid-November 1989, when he discharged the rehabilitation provider, he performed little or no job search.

The order appealed was entered after a hearing on Wohlgamuth's claim for wage loss benefits from August 1, 1989 through January 20, 1990. The judge found first that Wohlgamuth's job search for the entire period of the claim was either inadequate, because primarily conducted by telephone, or non-existent. With regard to Wohlgamuth's argument that, despite the inadequate search, he was entitled to the benefits of deemed earnings pursuant to section 440.15(3)(b)2., Florida Statutes (1987), the judge found no evidence as to the amount which Wohlgamuth could have earned during the period at issue. More importantly, he held that Wohlgamuth had established no causal connection between his injury and the loss of wage-earning capacity.

The adequacy of a work search is clearly a factual matter. Dental Arts Lab, Inc. v. Constantino, 531 So.2d 999 (Fla. 1st DCA 1988). There is competent substantial evidence to support the finding as to the inadequacy of Wohlgamuth's work search between August 1, 1989 and January 20, 1990. We therefore decline to disturb the judge's ruling on this issue.

Wohlgamuth's inadequate work search clearly constituted a voluntary limitation of income. See Edwards v. Caulfield, 560 So.2d 364, 375 (Fla. 1st DCA 1990). However, this does not entirely preclude an award of wage loss in that, in months where an employee's actions can be viewed as a voluntary limitation of income, he is still entitled to the benefit of deemed earnings. Kirkland v. Harold Pratt...

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3 cases
  • Van Doran v. Pope Co., 93-1387
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • January 4, 1995
    ...establishes the necessary causal relation between an industrial injury and subsequent wage loss. E.g., Wohlgamuth v. Central Maintenance and Welding, 600 So.2d 514 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992); Publix Supermarkets v. Franklin, 467 So.2d 1031 (Fla. 1st DCA 1985). As these cases indicate, a variety of......
  • Ankeny v. Palm Beach County School Bd., Div. of Risk Management
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • September 16, 1994
    ...part, on a medical prohibition, as it does in the instant case. Id. at 376. We reiterated this point in Wohlgamuth v. Central Maintenance & Welding, 600 So.2d 514 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992), where we held that although an unsuccessful work search is the most common method of establishing the requi......
  • Braithwaite v. Department of Transp.
    • United States
    • Florida District Court of Appeals
    • July 28, 1993
    ...in a finding of voluntary limitation of income, the concept of deemed earnings must still be considered. Wohlgamuth v. Central Maintenance & Welding, 600 So.2d 514 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992). "That is, the claimant is entitled to wage loss benefits reduced by the level of wages which the evidence ......

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