Synopsis: The Illinois State Chamber Sends Veto Letter to Gov. Pritzker to Try to Block IL SB 1956. I Urge All Illinois Businesses and Local Gov’ts to Join and Support His Efforts.
Editor’s comment: I salute the President of the IL Chamber Todd Maisch for his effort to save the structure of the IL WC system and avoid having lots of IL employers become uninsured for this new giant exposure and otherwise give them additional motivation to leave this State. For local gov’ts, I assure you this legislation isn’t going to apply to just the private sector—these lawyers will come at IL counties, cities and park districts also. Therefore, the cost of gov’t employee benefits and concomitant local taxes to pay them will continue to rise dramatically. I consider IL Chamber Maisch’s veto letter to be a “Must-Read” for IL risk and safety managers, so I am publishing it unedited below. I ask all my readers to consider joining the IL Chamber of Commerce, as they remain the lead organization that is a sentinel for IL business and jobs. For info, go to www.ilchamber.org
If you are busy, in short, you will note State Chamber President Maisch points out (with my comments):
There was no negotiation between Management and Labor in reaching this sweeping proposed change to the IL WC Act/System. In Gene’s view, ITLA is trying to jam this down everyone’s throats.
The speed, low cost and strict liability of the IL WC system works well for both sides. My comment, why mess-up something that isn’t broken?
The concepts of limitations/repose for WC/OD claims as currently written is fair and provides certainty. Again, my comment is--if you want to change them, bring it to the table.
The current IL WC and OccDisease Acts allow an employee to bring claims against third parties. Gene’s comment--that isn’t changing at all, workers don’t have to bankrupt employers to have a source of relief.
As I have advised, President Maisch affirms these new, expensive business-busting risks may be uninsured due to how IL WC/OD/EL coverage is written. My comment—Call Your Broker to insure you are covered when this becomes law!!!
Here is the letter:
Subject: Veto Request of SB 1596
Dear Gov. Pritzker:
One of the key, business issues you spoke about during the campaign last year was the need for workers’ compensation reform and indicated that any changes should be part of a process were business and labor negotiated such changes.
We urge you to veto SB 1596, as business interests were provided no opportunity to negotiate the provisions of SB 1596 and its provisions will have a profound impact on the workers’ compensation system as we outline below. We also urge you, following a veto, to bring the workers’ compensation stakeholders together to negotiate a more reasonable approach to addressing the Folta v. Ferro Engineering Illinois Supreme Court decision. A more reasonable approach would be to confine the issue to the WC/OD Acts.
The fundamental tenet of the WC/OD Acts are to establish an equitable system of compensating employees with certain benefits and swift remedy by forgoing their common-law rights and in exchange, the employers are subject to a strict liability system with known parameters. As such, Illinois employers enjoy the protections of exclusive remedy meaning a workplace injury or disease must be adjudicated under the WC/OD Acts. As part of the WC/OD Acts’ creation of certainty for employers, limitation periods to bring action against the employer have been established as part of the law. These time periods, 25 years for filing a claim and the three years statute of limitations under the Occupational Diseases Act, are finite periods and act as a complete bar to such action.
In 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court, in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, agreed with the employer community that the Acts bar an employee’s cause of action against an employer to recover damages for a disease resulting from asbestos exposure which arose out of and in the course of employment even though no compensation is available under those Acts due to the applicable statute of repose. In its 5-2 Folta decision, the Court noted: “The Acts do not prevent an employee from seeking a remedy against other third parties for an injury or disease. Rather, in this case, the acts restrict the class of potential defendants from whom Folta could seek a remedy, limiting Folta’s recourse for wrongful death claims to third parties other than the employer. In this case, Folta named 14 defendant manufacturers of asbestos-related products. Folta was not left without any remedy.”
Why we oppose SB 1596:
Exclusive remedy protection for Illinois employers is eviscerated creating significant, new exposures to liability, including punitive damages, that far exceed the benefits provided by the WC or OD Acts …Instead of the protections provided by the WC/OD Acts, employers will now face civil actions with unlimited awards, including punitive damages, from cases where the action has been previously barred. SB 1596 provides that the restriction in prosecution of a claim against an employer under both the WC and OD Acts “do not apply to any injury or death sustained by an employee as to which the recovery of compensation benefits under this Act would be precluded due to the operation of any period of repose or repose provision.”
Employer risk costs will increase due to the uncertainty…employers may be responsible for claims previously closed. Employers may be uninsured as business liability policies exclude workers’ compensation claims and workers’ compensation policies exclude civil claims against the employer. Lack of insurance coverage could jeopardize the financial viability of the employer and result in little to no award actually being received by the employee. By expanding the repose limit, an employee could continue to enjoy the strict liability placed on an employer and be relatively certain that benefits will be paid.
Settlements may be adversely impacted…the legislation provides that there is a “nonwaivable right to bring such an action against any employer or employers.” It is unclear as to how this change will impact future settlements under the WC/OD Acts.
We appreciate your consideration and are available should you or your staff have any questions.
Sincerely, Todd Maisch
President, CEO Illinois State Chamber of Commerce
I appreciate your thoughts and comments. Please post them on our award-winning blog.
Synopsis: More Democrat “Stealth” IL WC Legislation—If You Are Proud of Your Power, Why Hide Stuff?
Editor’s comment: This new proposed legislation was sent to me by a reader. The concern we both have is the change to the IL WC Act isn’t dramatic but I assure my readers of my feeling we are returning to the days of Blago and former IWCC Chair Dennis Ruth when WC changes aren’t being negotiated and are going to be secretly jammed down everyone’s throat. I call that “stealth” legislation.
Please take a look at IL HB 2301.
This new law amends the Civil Administrative Code of Illinois, the Workers' Compensation Act, and the Workers' Occupational Diseases Act. It replaces "employee class" and related terms with "representative of a labor organization recognized under the National Labor Relations Act". There is no need for this law—it could be put into place by our Governor without the need for legislation. What they are trying to change is to make this a permanent requirement that may be hard to change at any future time if balance ever returns to what is currently a “one-party” State.
I expect more stealth legislation like this—if you hear or see any, please send along so I can report it. I appreciate your thoughts and comments. Please post them on our award-winning blog.
Synopsis: Peoria Police Officer Isn’t Awarded Lifetime Healthcare for Family For a Simulated Training “Emergency.”
Editor’s comment: This is a mildly complex gov’t only claim that isn’t truly WC so if you are busy, go on to other things.
In short, Claimant Beckman was participating in a simulated riot situation, as part of her training for the Peoria P.D. She fell down on ice and snow during training and was injured and is receiving a lifetime line-of-duty disability pension. With respect to this fallen safety officer, I disagree with the idea that when on-the-job injuries preclude someone from being a police officer but they can do other work, that taxpayers have to pay them for life. I cannot tell from this ruling whether Claimant Beckman could do other police or gov’t work and it is possible she is totally disabled from all work.
The ruling is a battle over lifetime family healthcare coverage on top of the already adjudicated pension. To get the additional taxpayer-funded lifetime benefit, she has to establish she was injured during police actions “reasonably” felt to be in response to an emergency. Her problem is that training is a simulated but not real emergency. She was asserting she had to “treat” training as an emergency for the training to be valid.
The Appellate Court ruled she doesn’t get lifetime healthcare benefits for a “training emergency” that isn’t actually an emergency. She has to be in the field, responding to an actual emergency to get this government largesse.
If you want the link to the ruling, send a reply. I appreciate your thoughts and comments. Please post them on our award-winning blog.
Synopsis: NEXT WEEK--Join KCB&A with the IL State Chamber for the IL WC Workshop on April 2, 2019 in Naperville. The link to register is: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=omjkt4dab&oeidk=a07eg2i2618bf7c6629