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Court seeks review of comp attorneys' fees of $165 for 107 hours of work

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After hearing a case involving attorneys who earned only $165 for working 107 hours, an appellate court asked Florida's Supreme Court to review the state's cap on fees for attorneys who represent workers compensation claimants.

In the case of Marvin Castellanos v. Next Door Co., Florida's 1st District Court of Appeal said Wednesday that it is legally bound to uphold a 2009 law that reinstated Florida's cap on workers comp claimant attorneys fees, “however inadequate (the law) may be as a practical matter.”

The law constrained a workers comp judge hearing the case to award the claimant's lawyers only $165 for their 107 hours of work that the judge determined was reasonably necessary to obtain benefits for the case's claimant, court records state.

In affirming the award Wednesday, the appeals court agreed with the workers comp judge that the 2009 law required application of a fee calculation that determined the maximum amount that could be paid to the claimant's attorneys.

But the appeals court also certified to Florida's Supreme Court “the following as a question of great importance: whether the award of attorney's fees in this case is adequate, and consistent with the access to courts, due process, equal protection and other requirements of the Florida and federal constitutions.”