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Compensation Advisory Council
Council on Worker’s Compensation
February 13, 2009
Members present: Mr. Beiriger, Mr. Brand, Mr. Buchen, Mr.
Collingwood, Ms. Connor (for Mr. Scott), Ms. Huntley-Cooper, Mr. Kent, Mr.
Newby, Ms. Nugent, Mr. Olson, Ms. Pehler,
Mr. Redman, Mr. Schwanda
Excused: Ms. Vetter
Staff present: Mr. Aiello, Mr. Conway, Mr. O’Malley, Ms.
Knutson, and Mr. Krueger
- Call to Order/Introductions: Ms. Huntley-Cooper convened the
Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) meeting at approximately 09:30
a.m. in accordance with Wisconsin’s open meetings law. WCAC members, staff
and members of the audience introduced themselves.
- Minutes: The minutes of the January 12, 2009 meeting were
unanimously approved with correction with respect to the absence of Mr.
Newby and Mr. Schwanda.
- Presentation by
Dr. Maja Jurisic:
Dr. Jurisic presented information on “The 60 Summits Project”, sponsored in
part by the Wisconsin Consortium on Promoting Stay at Work and Return to
Work. At the Wisconsin Summit in October 2008, ideas were presented on
opportunities to improve return to work efforts, preventing needless work
disability, and a disability prevention model. The next summit meeting is
set for February 19th. The Wisconsin Consortium is suggesting
that the WCAC study the COHE (Center of Occupational Health and Education)
project in the state of Washington. The COHE project involves best
practices for reducing disability through training and financial incentives
for treating practitioners. Through this project, claims have been paid
faster with a decrease in appeals and disability periods.
- Correspondence: Mr. Conway reviewed the
correspondence from Ms. Caroline Hindes. Her husband suffered a head injury
at work and subsequently died in an automobile accident. Ms. Hindes is
requesting a statutory change allowing her to sue the employer for wrongful
death resulting from negligence of a co-worker. Such a suit is now barred
because worker’s compensation is the exclusive remedy. Mr. O’Malley
explained that under Wis. Stat. §102.03(2), the employer and co-employees
are protected from a lawsuit brought by the employee for a work-related
injury, with three exceptions: intentional assault by a co-employee,
negligent operation of a motor vehicle not owned or leased by the employer,
or in the case of liability of a governmental unit to pay judgments against
employees under a collective bargaining agreement or local ordinance. There
is no case law exception in Wisconsin to the exclusive remedy provision due
to gross negligence. Ms. Hindes’ suggestion will be added to the public
Mr. Conway asked the WCAC members to update their biographical information.
Mr. Newby indicated that he will be gone for a few weeks beginning the end
of March and Mr. Kent will assume the role as Labor spokesman in his absence
- New Business: Mr. O’Malley advised that the Unemployment
Insurance (UI) Division’s proposal to amend Wis. Stat. §102.23(1) regarding
appeals of orders from the Labor and Industry Review Commission to circuit
court has been withdrawn. Instead, UI proposes to amend Wis. Stat.
§108.10(4) to cross-reference the statutory provisions regarding appeals.
Mr. O’Malley indicated he spoke with Mr. Malaise at the Legislative
Reference Bureau regarding department concerns over the pending court of
appeals case challenging the constitutionality of the 2006 amendments to
Wis. Stat. §102.17(4). The circuit court in Fond du Lac County found the
retroactive application of the statute unconstitutional. The Department of
Justice has advised the Department that if the statute is declared
unconstitutional, this may result in a situation where employees would have
no remedy for barred traumatic injuries. The WCD will include a contingent
amendment in the final department proposals to provide that benefits for
barred traumatic injuries will once again be paid by the Work Injury
Supplemental Benefit Fund in the event the statute is declared
unconstitutional. The WCD will provide copies of the LIRC and circuit court
decisions in the Liska case to the WCAC along with a summary of the circuit
Mr. O’Malley advised that the U.S. Congress is concerned with worker’s
compensation issues at the state level and it is convening another National
Commission on Worker’s Compensation Laws. The last national study was 35
years ago and the commission’s report contained about 30 different
recommendations to states to modify their worker’s compensation laws, most
of which concerned benefit rates and coverage of workers.
Business: Labor provided the following reaction to the public proposals (the
numbers below correspond to the proposal numbers):
Management had no recommendations on the public proposals.
- 1. No; 2. Okay; 3. Worker’s compensation attorneys should make a proposal
if they want a change.
- Labor has questions.
- 1. This is similar to a Labor proposal; 2 & 3 Labor that the WCD
conduct a review of other states on continuation of health insurance
coverage during a period of disability and establishment of pension funds
and the cost of such a provision; 4. Labor has questions; 5. No.
- 1. No; 2. Already done by the department; 3. Okay; 4. No; 5. No; 6. No;
7. No; 8. Yes.
- 1. Okay; 2. Labor has questions.
Labor provided the following recommendations on the department proposals
(the numbers below correspond to the proposal numbers):
Management had no recommendations with respect to the department proposals.
- Labor has questions
Labor wants a simultaneous exchange of proposals, so they will provide their
proposals at the next meeting. Labor and Management may send their proposals
to each other prior to the next meeting to facilitate rapid and smooth
negotiations to reduce the time for the agreed bill process.
- Adjournment: Discussion on all agenda items concluded and the
meeting was adjourned at approximately 11:40 a.m.
Future meeting dates: March 13th, March 27th, April 13th, May 8th and
June 5th. All meetings are scheduled to be held at the Crowne Plaza in
Madison with the exception of the May 8th meeting which is scheduled at the
Clarion in Madison.