Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation Chief Judge David W. Langham recently announced multiple changes to the consolidation of districts and to the mediation process in workers’ compensation cases which will have immediate impact on the larger practice area. The first is an addition of two new mediators: Charles Hill, attached to the Fort Lauderdale office, and Kate Marshman, attached to the Tampa office. As was previously announced, the Melbourne district has been consolidated into the West Palm Beach and Daytona Districts, the Port Saint Lucie District has been consolidated into the West Palm Beach District, and the Lakeland District has been consolidated into the Tampa District.
While mediators have traditionally operated out of specific offices, there will no longer be mediators linked to specific judges, as cases will now be assigned on a statewide rotating basis. This will allow mediators to work either remotely, in a hybrid setting, or in office, with mediations primarily being conducted by zoom, with the discretion of allowing parties to appear by phone (through the zoom platform) left to the discretion of the mediator. Should the parties desire an in-person mediation, they may file a motion with said request. This new system will attempt to set mediation dates within 130 days, as it does now. This new assignment system will strive to split cases more equitably among mediators across the state.
In addition, a new schedule for mediations has been set, including that all times will be set in Eastern Time, including events for parties in the Florida Panhandle. In order to create a streamlined process for multiple cases between the same parties, the JCC has requested that parties consolidate cases when possible, or be on the watch for sua sponte orders consolidating cases. There are likely to be additional changes coming, and we will continue to update you accordingly.
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