Personnel Changes at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission
The Commission has been working with a short staff for quite some time. At the end of March, 2013, Governor Quinn terminated Chairman Mitchell Weisz and Public Commissioner Yolaine Dauphin. This was a positive move for employers. Chairman Weisz spent his entire career as a petitioner’s attorney. He did not enact any policies or procedures which favored employers or even balanced the system.
Similarly, the decision to not reappoint Commissioner Dauphin is also a good move for employers. She was the most petitioner oriented public member of the Commission. Panel B that she served on including Commissioners DeVriendt and White was the most petitioner oriented Panel at the Commission. That Panel reversed more favorable decisions than either of the other two Panels.
The Public Commissioner from Panel C, Attorney Michael Latz was appointed by the Governor as Chairman of the Commission. The end result of these actions created significant delays. Neither Panel B nor Panel C of the Commission could really function because neither had a public representative. Commissioner Donohoo was pressed on several occasions into triple duty but this really wasn’t fair. Currently, the three Panels at the Commission are listed below.
Commissioners by Panel
On August 9, 2013, Governor Quinn appointed one new public Commissioner. He appointed Attorney Michael Brennan as a Commissioner. He will likely be assigned one of the public Commissioner spots on either Panel B or C. Attorney Michael Brennan is a double graduate of DePaul University where he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree and also a Juris Doctorate from DePaul University College of Law. He is an extremely experienced attorney having been admitted to practice since 1977. His term will expire in January, 2017. He was most recently associated with the law firm of Adelson, Testan, Brundo, Novell & Jimenez, a California workers’ compensation defense firm. Prior to that, Attorney Brennan spent most of his career (almost 20 years) working for the venerable but now defunct workers’ compensation defense firm of Kane, Doy & Harrington.
Commissioner Brennan’s appointment is pending approval by the Illinois State Senate. It is somewhat odd that despite two vacancies at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Governor Quinn chose only to appoint one Commissioner.
The appointment of Commissioner Latz to serve as Chairman is a good one. He has demonstrated that he is fair minded and much more likely to impose rules that are fair to both parties. Similarly, the appointment of Attorney Brennan appears to be a good one. He is knowledgeable, experienced and even minded.
Governor Quinn still needs to appoint one more Public Commissioner. No other changes are expected at the Commission in the near future as all other Commissioners terms don’t end until January, 2015 or January, 2017. By that time we may have a new Governor.