Florida Court Corrects Arbitrator’s Error of Law in Recent Court of Appeals Case

In a recent opinion by the District Court of Appeals of Florida, Third Circuit, the court reversed a decision by an arbitrator and send the case back for a rehearing because the arbitrator did not properly calculate the damages the plaintiff was eligible for.

Background: What Is an Arbitration Agreement?

An arbitration agreement is a legally binding contract between two or more parties that agree not to go to court, but to instead submit their dispute to a neutral, third-party arbiter. Generally speaking, when a valid arbitration agreement is signed, both parties give up their right to take the case to court. However, when the arbiter makes a mistake of law, then that error—not the decision—may be appealable to a court of appeals.

Estrada v. Mercy Hospital

In the recent case Estrada v. Mercy Hospital, this very thing happened. Estrada went to Mercy Hospital for a routine mammogram. There was no evidence of microcalcification reported by the examining physician; however, a few years later Estrada was diagnosed with stage 3c breast cancer. Estrada sued Mercy Hospital for medical negligence. However, rather than have the court determine the damages owed to Estrada, both parties agreed to have an arbitration panel determine the damages.

The Arbitration Panel’s Legal Error

One of the claims central to Estrada’s case was her lost wages as a result of her illness. Estrada claimed that she will earn less in her lifetime because her lifespan is now going to be much shorter than it would have been had she been properly diagnosed and treated. She sought lost-wages damages that would be based on her estimated lifespan prior to her illness.

Mercy Hospital countered that including damages that Estrada was “essentially trying to craft a way of having a personal injury claim survive death of the injured party.” Mercy Hospital argued for a damages award that ended at the estimated time of her post-illness lifespan, which would be significantly shorter.

The arbitration panel agreed with Mercy Hospital, limiting Estrada’s damages. On appeal, however, the court reversed the decision holding that Estrada was entitled to damages based on her pre-illness lifespan and that “in Florida, a subsequent wrongful death action is barred when the personal injury litigation results in a judgment favorable to the injured person.”

Are You Considering Bringing a Florida Personal Injury Claim?

If you are considering bringing a Florida personal injury claim arising out of injuries you suffered due to the negligence of another, you should speak to an experienced and dedicated Florida accident lawyer immediately. As you can see in the example above, the intricacies of Florida personal injury law can be daunting to the self-represented claimant. At the Dean Law Firm, we have a dedicated group of personal injury attorneys waiting to meet with you to discuss the facts of your case. Click here, or call 352-387-8700 to speak to an attorney today.

More Blog Posts:

Discoverability of Medical Records in Florida Personal Injury Actions, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 17, 2014.

Florida Families File Lawsuit Against Synthetic-Marijuana Manufacturer After Losing Loved Ones in Drug-Related Accident, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 14, 2014.

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