Three New Workers’ Compensation Arbitrators Appointed
The changes in the Workers’ Compensation Act in 2011 drastically changed the arbitrators’ position. Arbitrators no longer are given lifetime appointments. Instead, their appointments are only for three years. Further, any appointments had to be confirmed by the Senate. Moreover, the new Act required the Commission to assign no fewer than three arbitrators to each hearing site. Also, no arbitrator was to hear cases in any county for more than two years in every three year term.
Since the new statute has been in effect for more than two years, all the downstate arbitrators are going to have to be reassigned by the end of the year. No reassignments have been published yet, but we certainly expect some significant changes in arbitration assignments.
Recently, Governor Quinn reappointed 12 existing arbitrators whose terms were expiring and he appointed three new arbitrators. The currently sitting arbitrators who terms have been extended three more years are William Gallagher, Carolyn Doherty, Joshua Luskin, Robert Williams, Barbara Flores, Deborah Simpson, Brian Cronin, Curt Carlson, Gregory Dollison, Edward Lee, Molly Mason and Douglas McCarthy.
The three new arbitrators that have been appointed include Molly Dearing, Jeff Huebsch and Ketki Steffen. All the new appointments are attorneys.
Molly Dearing is a downstate attorney. She attended the University of Illinois for her undergraduate work and Southern Illinois University Law School. She is a younger lawyer at 31 years old having been admitted to the Illinois Bar in 2007. She most recently has been working defending workers’ compensation claims made against the State of Illinois for the Illinois Attorney General in Carbondale, Illinois.
Ketki Steffen is a more experienced attorney. She was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1991 and worked for over 18 years at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office. She worked briefly as a Circuit Court Judge from 2010 to 2012. Most recently, she has been in private practice in Elgin, Illinois.
Attorney Jeff Huebsch is the most experienced of the three new arbitrators. He is 55 years old and was admitted to practice in 1984. He worked defending claims on behalf of the law firm of Power & Cronin for many years. He has extensive experience representing employers especially municipal employers.
All three of these new arbitrators will need to be approved by the Senate. Governor Quinn has not terminated any other existing arbitrators.
I do expect the Commission to publish new calendars and make reassignments in the downstate venues once the new arbitrators have been confirmed by the Senate.