A great educational program in Tallahassee

This week I am recognizing the efforts of Judge John Lazzara and others for a great educational seminar in Tallahassee. It is not an individual achievement. Many of the best ones are not individual, but require contributions from many to result in team victory.

The OJCC jointly produced the Mid-Winter Workers’ Compensation Update with the Workers’ Compensation Institute last Friday. Judge Lazzara was in charge of the day, and coordinated our timing, kept us to the schedule, coordinated with the speakers and more. He also played two critical roles in addition to his duties at the seminar. First, he was the motivator behind producing this 2014 program, providing the encouragement and support to instigate planning last year. Second, he invested significant time in recruiting and coordinating speakers and the production of their materials for distribution.

The First District Court of Appeal deserves recognition. The Court provided the venue, and what a venue. The courtroom in which the opening session was held is impressive and brought prestige to the panel on appellate hot topics. We were welcomed to that program by Judge Clayton Roberts, and Judge Kent Wetherell participated on the panel with attorneys Wendy Loquasto and Paul Anderson. The Court’s multi-purpose room which hosted the remainder of the presentations, and the rotunda in which lunch was served, were fantastic premises. Clerk of the Court Jon Wheeler provided an insightful and illuminating overview of the appellate process, and contributions of the Court to an orderly appellate process for workers’ compensation claims. The Court’s commitment to the goal of continuing education was evident, and appreciated.

The OJCC staff also contributed significantly to the program. The logistics of a program like this are always a challenge. The DOAH Administrative Services department, specifically Director Lisa Mustain and Jeff Wood, coordinated furnishings and technology at the Court, and arranged for recording of some portions of the program. In addition, Julie Hunsaker of the OJCC Clerk’s Office, Counsel Kathleen Hagan, and Mediator Susan Bisbee presented on the intracacies of child support consideration by the OJCC.

Three prominent Tallahassee physicians provided a lively discussion of the challenges of providing care to injured workers. The Division of Workers’ Compensation Office of the Ombudsman provided insight into their operations, and the services provided to injured workers. The Division of Risk Management, through Tod Stupski, provided insight into the challenges of state worker claims. The day concluded with a lively discussion of judicial hot topics featuring Judges Renee Hill (GNS),Ralph Humphries (JAX), Laura Roesch (PMC), and Nolan Winn (PNS).

The Tallahassee marketplace includes many state agencies, and specifically the Division of Risk Management. State budgets do not always include the funding required for travel to Orlando, Tampa, and other such venues where quality continuing education for attorneys and adjusters is common. This free seminar in Tallahassee each winter provides an exceptional educational opportunity for these government employees and others, in a convenient location.

The program would never reach fruition without the sponsorship and efforts of the Workers’ Compensation Institute and Resource Managers Inc.(RMI). General Chair Jim McConnaughhay opened the educational program, welcomed the attendees, and introduced Judge Roberts. Kathy Shelton coordinated the RMI efforts in support of the program. Cathy Bowman ran the registration desk. Shirley Kendall handled the registrations and questions leading up to the event. Stephanie Dodson did the design work for the promotional materials. Woody Douglas did the heavy lifting and managed the audio visual challenges. As a team, the RMI crew handled the various challenges through the day including lunch, snacks, and more.

The event was exceptionally well attended. The contributions of all of the speakers, the Court, the Institute, the DOAH, and RMI were greatly appreciated and without par. It could not have been done without such a great team. I am thankful to them. We plan to do the program again in 2015. Watch for future announcements for details. 

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