Boyd & Jenerette Partner Blake Hood prevailed at a final merits hearing before Judge of Compensation Claims Holley on February 20, 2019 when he successfully obtained an order denying all benefits on misrepresentation grounds in the case of Branson Cocke v. Carlisle Interconnect Technologies and New Hampshire Insurance Company, OJCC# 18-015745 (March 15, 2019). Following his compensable low back injury, the Claimant returned to work for the Employer, which provided different accommodations of his work restrictions. At one point, the Claimant represented to the authorized treating physician that he was sitting in a “metal folding chair” that was uncomfortable, and the physician consequently assigned a restriction that the Claimant be provided with an adjustable chair with lumbar support. The Employer provided the chair to the Claimant at work as requested, and thereafter the Claimant worked some days and missed many. Yet in the subsequent office visit, the Claimant represented to the physician that he was still sitting in the metal folding chair, that he had not been provided with the adjustable chair with lumbar support, and that he had been working 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. The physician therefore placed the Claimant on a no-work status, and the Claimant received temporary total disability benefits as a result.
The Clamant testified at trial that he told the physician the chairs he sat in had the “comfortability equivalent” of a metal folding chair but did not intend to convey an actual metal folding chair. However, when asked as to whether the he specifically conveyed to the physician that he was only describing the comfortability level of the chair as being similar to a metal folding chair, the Claimant said “no I did not say that.”
Following the deposition testimony of the physician and testimony from Employer representatives, the JCC found that the Claimant knowingly made a false or misleading statement to the physician regarding the description of the chairs that he was provided to sit in while performing the modified duty. The JCC further found that it was reasonable to infer that the Claimant intended to influence the physician’s opinion on work status (or possibly trying to force the Employer to provide a different modified job) by reporting the misleading or false statements to the physician as to sitting in metal folding chairs for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Therefore, the JCC denied the Claimant’s claim and ruled that no further benefits were due.
Mr. Hood devotes his practice to the defense of employers and insurance carriers in claims and appeals arising under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act as well as claims brought under the federal Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act. He is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Workers’ Compensation, a designation he earned in 2013. He is an expert in workers’ compensation law dealing with the analysis and litigation of problems or controversies arising out of the Florida Workers’ Compensation Law.
His practice extends throughout the state of Florida, and he is licensed to practice law in North Carolina as well. He represents many insurance carriers and third party administrators. Additionally, he lectures on various topics concerning state and federal workers’ compensation claims.