Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and UPS, Appellants,
Wilbert Miller, Appellee.
final until disposition of any timely and authorized motion
under Fla. R. App. P. 9.330 or 9.331.
of Accidents: October 26, 2011 and June 28, 2016.
appeal from an order of the Judge of Compensation Claims.
Stephen L. Rosen, Judge.
Christopher A. Hanson and McKensey M. Sims of Rissman,
Barrett, Hurt, Donahue, McLain & Mangan, P.A., Tampa, for
D. Oquist, St. Petersburg, for Appellee.
the employer/carrier (E/C) in this workers' compensation
matter, appeal an order denying their motion to enforce
settlement agreement. Because the order did not appear to be
either a final order or an appealable nonfinal order as
required by Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.180(b)(1),
this Court ordered the E/C to show cause why this appeal
should not be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds. In
response, the E/C rely on what they describe as a
"modified finality standard" applicable to
workers' compensation orders. Finding the E/C's
arguments unpersuasive, we dismiss the appeal.
Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.180(b) addresses this
court's jurisdiction over appeals in workers'
compensation proceedings and limits that jurisdiction to
final orders as well as just three specified types of
nonfinal orders: those that adjudicate jurisdiction, venue,
and compensability (but only if the order on compensability
includes certain specified provisions). Fla. R. App. P.
9.180(b)(1)(A)-(C). And unlike the recently expanded list of
appealable interlocutory orders in rule 9.130(a)(3)(C) (which
does not apply in workers' compensation appeals), the
list of appealable interlocutory order contained in rule
9.180(b)(1) does not include orders that determine a
settlement agreement is not enforceable.
order is one that "constitutes the end of the judicial
labor in the cause, and nothing further remains to be done by
the Court to effectuate a termination of the cause as between
the parties directly affected." S.L.T. Warehouse Co.
v. Webb, 304 So.2d 97, 99 (Fla. 1974). "[I]n the
context of a workers' compensation case, an order that
decides all issues then ripe for adjudication is considered
to be a 'final order'-even if the order does not
represent an end to all judicial labor in the case, and even
where additional claims not then ripe for adjudication remain
pending." Ake v. U.S. Sugar Corp., 112 So. 32d
171, 172 (Fla. 1st DCA 2013) (citing Bradley v. Hurricane
Rest., 652 So.2d 443, 444 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995)).
court has already held that orders denying a motion to
enforce settlement agreement are interlocutory and, thus,
non-final. See. e.g., Naghtin v. Jones By &
Through Jones, 680 So.2d 573, 575 (Fla. 1st DCA 1996)
(holding order denying motion to enforce settlement was
"clearly not a final order" because it did not end
all judicial labor.). Unlike an order that does
enforce a settlement agreement, which ends the case and
forecloses any additional claims, an order denying such a
motion leaves open the possibility for additional claims due
to the serial nature of workers' compensation cases. This
same principle applies to orders denying motions to dismiss.
See Morton & Oxley, Ltd. v. Charles S. Eby, M.D.,
P.A., 916 So.2d 820, 821 (Fla. 2d DCA 2005) (holding
that "[t]he denial of a motion to dismiss a complaint is
a non-final order, and the denial of a motion to dismiss for
failure to name indispensable parties or for lack of standing
is not listed as an appealable non-final order in Rule
E/C nevertheless attempt to elude dismissal by arguing that
the serial nature of workers' compensation cases requires
that the term "final order" as used in Rule 9.180
be given a "modified meaning" for purposes of the
rule. In support of their argument, the E/C assert that,
because the only issue ripe for adjudication at the time the
order under review was issued was whether there was an
enforceable settlement agreement, and the order adjudicated
that issue, it was a final workers' compensation order,
relying on the Bradley and Ake decisions,
as well as decisions concerning orders granting or denying
argument fails for two reasons. First, both Ake and
Bradley involved compensation orders that addressed
claims for benefits and involved situations in which claims
that were ripe for adjudication were in fact adjudicated,
whereas claims that were not ripe were not adjudicated. It
was in this context that the court in Ake explained
that the basis for a "modified definition of
'final' and 'non-final' orders for
workers' compensation cases is based on the fact that
workers' compensation cases generally proceed on a
piecemeal basis-with various entitlements to
benefits becoming due at different times." 112
So.3d at 172. Under the E/C's rationale, however,
virtually any interlocutory motion that is adjudicated can
qualify as final if the order resolves the only issue(s)
raised in the motion even if there are (or may be) other
"claim" in workers' compensation law is the
"assertion of a legal right or benefit under Chapter
440" and "[c]ompensation proceedings may, of
course, generate successive appealable final orders, each
covering all benefits then due and not agreed
between the parties." Town of Palm Beach v.
Watts, 426 So.2d 1312, 1313 (Fla. 1st DCA 1982)
(emphasis added). This is why orders denying or granting
advance payments are appealable- they involve a claim for a
benefit even if such benefit is awardable before there is an
adjudication on compensability or entitlement to other
benefits, and even when other claims may be pending but not
ripe for adjudication.
however, the issue was not a claim ripe for adjudication but,
rather, the merits of a motion by which the E/C sought to
enforce a purported settlement agreement; that is, put an end
to the case. But, just as orders denying a motion to dismiss
are unappealable interlocutory orders, so too are orders
denying a motion to enforce a settlement agreement, because
in both cases the denial results in the potential for
additional judicial labor – the very antithesis of
finality. Thus, because the order here was not ...