FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
of Accident: July 31, 2013.
appeal from an order of the Judge of Compensation Claims.
Thomas W. Sculco, Judge.
Meredith A. Chaiken of Tenberg Chaiken, Lighthouse Point, for
Charles H. Leo of the Law Offices of Charles H. Leo, PA,
Orlando, and Richard W. Ervin III, of Fox & Loquasto, PA,
Tallahassee, for Appellee.
Bishop once played for the Orlando Predators in the Arena
Football League ("AFL"). Although he and the team
parted ways after just one season, Bishop later participated
in a Predators tryout, hoping to resume his professional
football career. On the second day of the two-day tryout,
Bishop suffered an on-the-field injury. The issue in this
case is whether the AFL must provide workers'
compensation benefits for that injury.
entitlement to benefits turns on whether he was an AFL
employee, which turns on what we make of the "Standard
Player Contract" that Bishop signed (the
"Contract"). A claimant does not always need a
formal employment contract to receive workers'
compensation benefits, of course, see, e.g.,
Jenks v. Bynum Transp., Inc., 104 So.3d 1217, 1222
(Fla. 1st DCA 2012), but the parties agree that Bishop's
claim depends on this Contract.
contends the Contract shows he was an AFL employee; the AFL
contends just the opposite. The judge of compensation claims sided
with Bishop, and the AFL appeals. Because the decision below
turned on issues of law, our review is de novo. See BOLD
MLP, LLC v. Smith, 201 So.3d 1261, 1261 (Fla. 1st DCA
2016); see also Bend v. Shamrock Servs., 59 So.3d
153, 156 (Fla. 1st DCA 2011) (noting that JCCs "may be
required to interpret contracts" to determine coverage).
Contract says that "[t]he League hires the Player as a
skilled football player for employment beginning February 1,
2013 and ending August 31, 2013." It has three signature
lines: one for "Player Signature, " one labeled
"Team Rep. Acknowledgement (Mandatory), " and one
for "League Signature." Bishop signed on the
"Player Signature" line, and the Orlando
Predators' coach signed on the "Team Rep.
Acknowledgement." But the "League Signature"
line remained blank. So was there a contract or wasn't
offers several arguments as to why we should find there was
an agreement, notwithstanding the missing signature. One
argument is that no AFL signature was required because the
Contract itself does not say signatures are required. This
argument cannot succeed; a contract cannot be enforceable
against a nonsignatory simply because it does not expressly
provide that signatures are required. Cf. D.L. Peoples
Grp., Inc. v. Hawley, 804 So.2d 561, 563 (Fla. 1st DCA
2002) ("Where one contracting party signs the contract,
and the other party accepts and signs the contract, a binding
contract results."). A contract requires mutual assent,
Gibson v. Courtois, 539 So.2d 459, 460 (Fla. 1989),
and a form contract that provides it is between two parties,
 that includes a signature line for both
parties, and that has only one party's signature
cannot-without more-demonstrate mutual assent.
points to language in the Contract that provides a mechanism
for the AFL to unilaterally cancel the contract after its
execution. The Contract says that "after execution,
" the Contract will be filed with the AFL headquarters.
The AFL's Director of Football Operations then has
"the right to disapprove this Contract" for various
reasons. If the Director exercises that right, "both
parties will be relieved of their respective rights and
obligations under this Contract." The Contract further
provides that absent "disapproval" within seven
days, approval is automatic.
from the AFL ever gave notice that the Contract was
"disapproved." But notwithstanding Bishop's
arguments, this does not mean the Contract was automatically
approved-or that a binding agreement was formed. If the
Contract had been executed, those provisions would have
allowed the AFL to terminate the agreement, but that does not
help us decide whether the Contract was executed in the first
place. If it was not, the Contract's
"disapproval" provisions never came into play.
Indeed, if there was never mutual assent-evidenced by
signatures or otherwise-then those provisions, like all the
Contract's provisions, mean nothing.
also suggests that the AFL could assent to the Contract
without signing it. It is true that parties may show assent
through means other than signatures. Gateway Cable T.V.,
Inc. v. Vikoa Constr. Corp., 253 So.2d 461, 463 (Fla.
1st DCA 1971) ("The object of a signature is to show
mutuality or assent, but these facts may be shown in other
ways, for example, by the acts or conduct of the
parties."). But in this case, the only AFL action Bishop
claims showed the AFL's assent was the AFL's decision
to let Bishop participate in the tryout. We cannot conclude