We've all likely heard the stories regarding the troubled financial condition of the Illinois State Government. We've heard the jokes about the “Governors Suite” at the Illinois State Penitentiary. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has compared being next to Illinois to living next door to the Simpson's – “that dysfunctional family down the street”. Now there is word that 30 workers' compensation arbitrators terminated as part of financial reforms in the state will continue to receive paychecks for an undisclosed period. And at least 4 of those arbitrators have filed as many as 7 workers' compensation claims. The stereotype rages on.
Arbitrator John Dibble received a $48,790 settlement for a repetitive trauma claim, saying he received delayed onset carpal tunnel syndrome from falling on the steps of a building in Herrin where worker's comp hearings are held. He was placed on leave after it was revealed the settlement was not made public.
Jennifer Teague, who has since changed her last name to Carril, resigned from her arbitrator's job in July. She is accused of pushing for a quick resolution of her own repetitive trauma claim in exchange for holding a hearing on one of her scheduled furlough days.
Gilberto Galicia received $41,349 for a repetitive trauma settlement.
And Arbitrator Kathleen Hagan filed her fourth workers' compensation claim which is currently pending. She has collected a total of $42,271 from her prior workers' compensation claims.
All of the recently terminated arbitrators will continue to receive their paychecks, until successors are appointed by the Governor. The official date of their reform generated termination was July 1, 2011. Some of the arbitrators may be rehired into their position, but the reforms require them to be attorneys. Many are not.
Are 7 claims out of 30 people, who work in a non-industrial environment, excessive? Apparently not in the public sector. My company, most decidedly in the private sector category, has existed for a decade without a single claim of any kind, repetitive or otherwise (Ok, I did fall over a speed bump at the Las Vegas airport last year after the National Conference, and fractured two ribs – but I'll be damned if I was going to be the first one to file a claim). And it doesn't happen often, but people fired here generally stay fired, and their paychecks cease with their termination. What is so difficult to understand about that in the public sector?
It's not hard to see why people are so frustrated with the abuses they see in government.
Some in the state are pushing for “quick and careful” replacements for the arbitrators. State Representative Dwight Kay says, “We need to replace people who make bad calls and replace them with the best and brightest.”
Maybe they should look in Indiana.
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Robert Wilson is President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, and "From Bob's Cluttered Desk" comes his (often incoherent) thoughts, ramblings, observations and rants - often on workers' comp or employment issues, but occasionally not.
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