Four Bryce Downey & Lenkov attorneys, capital member Rich Lenkov, income member Jeanmarie Calcagno and associates Emily Schlecte and Timothy Furman—secured 6 consecutive zeros in less than 4 months in 2020:
1. On 1/16/20, Arbitrator Soto ruled in favor of our client, a large plumbing distributor. Jeanmarie presented surveillance disputing Petitioner’s version of the accident. The arbitrator found that Petitioner’s current medical condition did not relate to the alleged injury nor did it arise out of the course of their employment, resulting in all benefits being denied.
2. On 2/6/20 Arbitrator Kay ruled in favor of our client, a national discount retailer. Emily proved that Petitioner was providing conflicting statements regarding the accident date, as well as omitting crucial case information. Arbitrator Kay stated that “Petitioner reported inconsistent, vague, and inaccurate medical and accident histories to her various providers, making it difficult to render credible opinions.” The arbitrator also awarded credit to our client for all medical expenses paid.
3. On 2/19/20, Arbitrator Steffenson found on behalf of our client, a police department. Rich convinced the arbitrator that Petitioner’s causation argument was not compelling, given her prior medical history. We also presented surveillance showing Petitioner carrying items to and from her car and driving and bending without difficulty, all contrary to her alleged disability. The arbitrator also found Respondent’s retained physician, Dr. Singh, more credible than the treater. Arbitrator gave Petitioner nothing, stating that “Petitioner herself also lacks credibility before the arbitrator for multiple reasons.” (He then listed 6 different examples of Petitioner’s lack of credibility).
4. On 2/25/20, Arbitrator Watts found for our client, a national health insurance company. Emily used Petitioner’s failure to immediately report the accident as key to our defense, with Watts finding that “Petitioner offered no evidence to show that she reported her injury to either of her supervisors…Respondent disputed the compensability of Petitioner’s accident based, in part, on Petitioner’s inconsistent accident reports and lack of evidence regarding the cause of Petitioner’s alleged incident.” The arbitrator denied all benefits and awarded our client credit for medical benefits already paid.
5. On 2/27/20, Arbitrator Soto found on behalf of our client, an international HVAC company. Tim focused on Petitioner’s inability to trace his accident to a definite time, place or cause. Tim also presented compelling evidence of prior medical history. The arbitrator found that “the testimony regarding the [injury]…was speculative and not reliable,” and also gave us credit for the amount already paid to Petitioner.
6. On 3/9/20 Rich secured a zero award on behalf of a national nonprofit health system. Rich demonstrated repeatedly that Petitioner was not credible or consistent in her accident and medical histories. Rich also submitted very compelling surveillance and social media evidence that directly contradicted Petitioner’s alleged debilitating pain. Arbitrator Friedman awarded no benefits, finding that “[h]aving observed the Petitioner and witnesses testify and reviewed the evidence, the Arbitrator finds that Petitioner was not credible. The record shows that she has been contradicted by the greater weight of the evidence on virtually every assertion that she has made.” (emphasis added). The claim is currently being investigated by the Illinois Department of Insurance Fraud Unit.
Some key takeaways from these wins:
- Prepare every case as if you are going to trial. While most cases settle, you need to have all of your evidence lined up and use your willingness to try a case as leverage to settle.
- A zero at trial starts the day an injury occurs, not when the trial starts. By partnering with our clients to develop compelling evidence from the beginning, we are able to present strong arguments at trial, sometimes years later.
- Credibility is key, especially Petitioner’s. Our attorneys are very skilled in cross examination and use all available resources to point out inconsistencies and lack of veracity in a claimant’s history and testimony.
- To secure a zero, avail yourself of tools like IMEs, surveillance and social media. We have won many more cases beyond these six using those very tools.
- Above all else, don’t throw in the towel just because you perceive Illinois to be a pro-claimant state. The next time you think that you’ve got a good case to defend on its merits, but otherwise would lose because “Oh, it’s Illinois,” think of these six zeros in four months and remember that a strong case is a strong case, even here in Illinois.
If you are interested in getting zeroes on your disputed cases, contact Rich Lenkov at firstname.lastname@example.org or any member of our workers’ compensation team.