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    Welcome to the Workers' Compensation Section Home Page.

    Your Executive Council has created this site in an effort to encourage and facilitate communication and exchange of ideas among the members of our Section. Enjoy! The purpose of the Workers' Compensation Section is to provide an organization within The Florida Bar open to all members in good standing who have a common interest in workers' compensation law. The Section provides a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas leading to the improvement of individual trial abilities in workers' compensation cases.

    Send mail with questions or comments about this web site to:

    Richard J Manno, Esq.
    Workers Compensation Section Technology Chair
    4767 New Broad Street,
    Orlando, FL., 32814
    (407) 484-0666

    Please use the social media links below to stay well informed about the section's events and information regarding the practice of workers’ compensation within the state.

    Legal Fuel
    (Please identify yourself as a section member)

    Message from the Chair

    The “cold” temperatures and grey skies of winter have passed, and Spring is upon us! It’s not too hot and not too cold. The sun is shining, and the birds are chirping. Springtime in Florida is arguably the best time of year. But don’t blink because before we know it, summer will have taken hold and our beautiful spring weather will have turned into a mosquito infested swamp of humidity and afternoon thunderstorms. The weather in Florida often imitates the ups and downs that we encounter in life. So, we can dwell on a chilly past and the heat that the future may bring, or we can live in the present and appreciate the gifts that we have been given.

    May is Health and Wellness Month for Florida Lawyers. We are part of a profession that is Number 1 in alcoholism and top 10 in suicide rate. Our alcoholism rate is twice the national rate. I have always associated health and wellness with what I eat and working out. Encouragingly, attorneys don’t appear to be in the top 10 when it comes to obesity. However, health and wellness comprise much more than what protein I am eating and how many reps I can do at 225 (which at this point in my life is ZERO).

    Your Workers’ Compensation Section has recently created a Health and Wellness committee (HWC) to address the needs of our members. On May 8, the HWC will be providing a 1-hour CLE, free to all attendees, that will focus on lawyers and mental health wellbeing. The Zoom link for this presentation will be provided via a Section e-mail blast. This presentation will be the first of hopefully many more opportunities for our Section to learn about the issues facing attorneys and to engage in conversation focused on improving our overall health and mental wellbeing. For those of you who need help, please ask. If you don’t want to ask one of us, call the Florida Lawyers Helpline at 833-351-9355 for confidential assistance. And if you recognize someone as having a potential mental health or wellness problem, please offer your help.

    On to other Section news. Our Town Halls are in full swing, and we are very appreciative to the OJCC for partnering with us to provide our practitioners with the opportunity to get to know our judiciary better. As for in-person events, our incoming Chair, Paolo Longo has spearheaded a series of Judicial Roundtables coming soon to a city near you. These roundtables are yet another opportunity to get to know our Judges, and we again appreciate the OJCC’s cooperation with these events.

    Noticing the need to get younger practitioners involved in our Section, Neil Ambekar is taking charge of developing a young lawyers’ committee (YLC) for our young and newer lawyers. The goal of the YLC is to increase involvement of younger practitioners in the section and start paving the way for new leadership, as well as providing mentorship for those in need.

    On the topic of new leadership, this will be my last Chair’s message as Paolo Longo will be taking over as Chair of the Section on July 1. It is with deep appreciation that I have been given the opportunity to lead such an amazing Section. The initiatives in place and programs that we are developing will put us in a position to be one of the most effective Sections for its membership. While there are far too many people to thank for their contributions, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the person who really keeps the Section running, so a big thank you to Willie Mae Sheppard, our Bar Program Administrator. While we all work hard to ensure the viability of our practice and provide programming that enhances and improves our Section, Willie May is the primary cog that keeps the wheel moving.

    Thank you for allowing me to serve you as your Chair and I look forward to continuing my service to the Section in the future.

    Message from the Chair

    Fall is in the air and the holiday season is upon us. I’d venture to guess that other than a significant increase in the consumption of everything pumpkin spice, most of us associate the holiday season with family, friendship, and togetherness.

    Hurricane Ian recently carved its way through our great state, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. As we have seen so many times in the past, after a great tragedy, people pull together in the aftermath and come out with a greater sense of community. To those impacted by Hurricane Ian, your Workers’ Compensation Section family is with you. If you are in need, please reach out.

    On the topic of community, as of October 1, 2022, there are 92,499 members of The Florida Bar eligible to practice, 1,234 of whom are members of the Workers’ Compensation Section.

    The strength of our section is in its size. We are a congenial bunch. For the most part, everyone knows everyone, and we are all family, even if dysfunctional at times. Most of us take great pride in the level of professionalism that is displayed amongst our colleagues and friends.

    Gone are the days of live pretrials and in-person motion hearings. The new way of the world is Microsoft Teams meetings and Zoom hearings. I am a huge proponent of phone and video appearances. However, while technology certainly makes us more efficient, it prevents us from the personal contact and camaraderie that makes our section great.

    On the topic of technology, while I would argue we are the most congenial and professional section out there, sometimes everyone can use a reboot. As we shift away from in-person contact, now is the time for us as practitioners and colleagues to unite and promote professionalism.

    Due to the lack of personal contact, it is incumbent upon the more senior practitioners in our field to mentor newer practitioners. It is time for us to come together and foster community. To this extent, your Executive Council will start working on a mentorship program available to all section members, the mission of which will be to bring participants in the workers’ compensation system together and continue to promote a level of professionalism and camaraderie that is the cornerstone of our practice.

    I am honored to be your section chair. Through my 25 years of practice, I have gained valuable friendships and earned lasting relationships. I hope that all of you reading this message have had similar experiences. The holiday season is about family, friends, and togetherness. As we constantly strive to promote professionalism amongst our colleagues, the Workers’ Compensation Section will have an enduring holiday season.

    Philip R. Augustine
    Section Chair

    Lourdes Sancerni appointed

    Lourdes Sancerni

    Governor Ron DeSantis recently appointed Lourdes Sancerni to be a judge of compensation claims in Orlando, Florida. Along with other judges, she will preside over workers’ compensation claims brought in Orange, Lake, Osceola and Seminole counties. Judge Sancerni was admitted to the Florida Bar in April 2003, following her graduation from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in December 2002. She received her undergraduate degree from Florida International University. Immediately prior to her appointment, Judge Sancerni was an attorney, focusing her practice on workers’ compensation law in North and Central Florida.

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