Local Personal Injury Law Firm Wins 12-Year-Old Social Security Case
Local Personal-Injury Law Firm Wins 12-Year-Old Social Security Case
Luis Gracia, a partner for the personal-injury firm of Rue, Ziffra and Caldwell, received a favorable ruling on a case he and many others at the Port Orange firm spent a dozen years working on
PORT ORANGE – The Port Orange-based law firm of Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell wrapped up 2012 by celebrating the end of a personal-injury case that one attorney took very personally.
Luis Gracia, who has been with the firm since 1998, worked relentlessly for 12 years fighting for a client in a social security disability case that required many briefs to be written, and numerous hearings and appeals to be held.
He was rewarded for his tireless efforts when a United States magistrate judge for the Orlando Division of the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida, ruled in his client’s favor in November.
“After 12 years of fighting her claim through hearings and appeals, we finally won,” a jubilant Gracia said after the decision was handed down by Judge Gregory J. Kelly. “My client and I are thrilled as there are very few cases in the country in which a claim has been approved after such a long period of time.”
Gracia – who filed the suit on Jan. 1, 2000 – never wavered as he, Attorney Edward S. Rue and several other colleagues pursued the case, which centered on his client’s claim for Social Security Disability benefits, alleging she had degenerative disk disease and depression/adjustment disorder. Nearly two years later, the case received an unfavorable decision even though an administrative law judge said the client was credible, and her physicians stated she was unable to perform her required work, Gracia said.
After four hearings by three different judges, the Commissioner of Social Security’s decisions denying her application were reversed, once by the Appeals Council and twice by the United States District Court, according to the recent order. At a fifth hearing in October 2012, the court denied the commissioner’s motion to remand the case for another hearing, saying the previous denials were not supported by evidence and that the judge failed to comply with the federal court’s directives.
According to Gracia, the court then issued its final decision reversing the case and seeking a calculation of benefits for the client in November, saying that the administrative law judges’ actions for such a long period of time had resulted in a miscarriage of justice for his client.
Quoting the First Circuit Court of Appeal in a similar case, Judge Kelly ordered the case closed in favor of Gracia’s client, adding that &ldqo;The Commissioner is not entitled to endless opportunities to get it right.”
Allan L. Ziffra, president of the longtime firm, agrees.
“It was important to seek justice for the client and our social security attorneys did a great job,” Ziffra said. “And, it is the longest case in our firm’s history.”
While 12 years to settle a lawsuit may seem extreme, some cases such as a Massachusetts commercial property lease lawsuit filed in 1983 – Richard Aronovitz and another vs. Madlyn A. Fafard and another – has been going on for more than 25 years. And, in a Louisiana case based on a will from the 1800s – Gaines vs. Hennen – the case continued for 68 years, even after the woman who filed it had died, according to www.Justia.com, a website of the U.S. Supreme Court Center.
Gracia says he’s just thankful that his client finally can move on.
About Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell Founded by John D. Rue and Allan L. Ziffra, the personal-injury law firm of Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell has served the Central Florida community for more than 25 years. The firm’s commitment to its profession and its clients has earned it a reputation as one of the top personal-injury law firms in Central Florida. Known for handling everything from automobile and motorcycle accidents to medical malpractice, wrongful death, and social security and disability cases, Rue, Ziffra & Caldwell has recovered millions of dollars for injured clients and their families. With a staff of nine attorneys, the firm maintains offices in Port Orange, DeLand and Palm Coast. For more information, visit rueziffra.com.
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