July 2019
Hats Off to All of Our Heroic Military and
First Responders

Every day, our clients tell us stories of the amazing servicemen and women, police, coast guard and firefighters who’ve saved them from one disaster or another. We are grateful for their commitment, their courage and their concern. We are mindful of the dangers they face, and of the harms and tolls their work takes on their lives.

Sometimes those harms are created by accidents or fires, exposed electrical wires or weather disasters. Sometimes, though, our first responders are not protected from the agencies that actually put them in harm’s way. That was the situation with the case we discuss below, handled by Lane & Lane Partner Mark Brown, who represented several firefighters and paramedics for service-related injuries.

In this email we also share safety tips for playgrounds, introduce the newest member of our Lane & Lane team, and highlight upcoming events in the area. And if you've never been to the Chicago Bears Training Camp, which begins in Bourbonnais on Saturday, July 27, it's fun for the whole family and there are lots of kid-friendly activities to try in addition to the camp itself!

As always, if you have any feedback about our newsletter, please send it. If there is anything our Lane & Lane team can do to help you, your family, friends or colleagues, please call or email us. 
Stephen I. Lane
Managing Partner
312-332-1400 - office
Standing Up for Those Who Serve
Two women, four men. All between the ages of 40-56. All Chicago firefighters or paramedics. All injured in the line of duty. And all, ultimately, without a job. The reason: They weren’t given the medical treatment they needed, when they needed it, in order to recover and go back to work. 
The Backstory

Historically, if a firefighter or paramedic in Chicago Fire Department Union Local No. 2 was injured on the job, the Department's Medical Director directed the employee to the appropriate doctor (e.g., orthopedic specialist). The doctor would then make his or her recommendations for treatment, treatment was administered, the employee went back to work, and the City paid for the treatment. This process of taking care of these service people was established decades ago as part of a collective bargaining agreement. Firefighters and paramedics were exempt from State of Illinois workers' compensation laws.

The New Protocol

In November 2008, the City wanted to reduce its healthcare costs and retained a managed care organization to achieve this goal. 

Despite the collective bargaining agreement for firefighters and paramedics, the managed care company began to handle their injuries the same way they handle other workers' compensation injuries. They instructed the medical specialists who evaluated and treated the injured workers to submit their treatment recommendations to the managed care company for a Utilization Review (UR). A UR is when nurses or physicians working for the managed care company review requests for specific services and procedures ordered by treating physicians and determine what treatment, in their view, is medically necessary. A UR does not entail a physical exam of any kind, nor a conversation with the injured party; it is strictly a matter of reviewing medical records.
The Battle Begins

Soon there were a growing number of injured firefighters and paramedics who were told by the managed care company after a UR that the treatment ordered was "not medically necessary." The medical specialists fought with the managed care company over an extended period of time about the treatment these individuals needed to recover and get back to work. But by making the decision that treatment was not medically necessary, and delaying treatment month after month, some of the injured Chicago firefighters and paramedics suffered a worsening of their injuries and were unable to go back to work within the required 12-month period and lost their jobs.
In 2009, a lawsuit was filed on behalf of nearly two dozen injured firefighters and paramedics. Most of these plaintiffs settled quickly because the injured parties were able to go back to work. But there were two women and four men who were unable to go back to work in 12 months due to delays in receiving medical care, which they attributed to the management care company's baseless UR determinations. By 2013, when it became clear that a protracted legal battle would take place, the six former public servants and their attorneys turned to Lane & Lane Partner Mark Brown for help. They knew they needed a highly-skilled litigator who was willing to take on the managed care company.

Our Winning Argument

We alleged that the managed care company intentionally provided the City with baseless medical reviews -- i.e., not medically necessary determinations -- and the City, who was relying on the managed care company, was induced not to authorize treatment or pay for the care of the firefighters and paramedics based on these baseless medical reviews. (We alleged that in 2009 alone, the managed care company sent 173 medical care determination letters, and in 78% of those letters stated that the requested treatment was “not medically necessary.”)

“We alleged tortious interference -- a rarely-used claim -- with the collective bargaining agreement which stated that the City pays all hospital and medical costs from injuries, illnesses or disabilities stemming from the job of firefighter or paramedic,” explains Mark. “Instead of allowing the recommended treatments to take place, ranging from surgical procedures to occupational therapy, the managed care company utilized their review criteria and determined that the treatments were not medically necessary, which delayed treatment.” By the time our six clients eventually received treatment, months or years later, the damage was done -- their jobs were lost and they suffered more pain and disability than necessary.

The case settled in March 2019 but details are confidential. These six individuals will always wish they had been timely treated for their injuries and able to return to a job they loved – saving lives – but they are grateful for Mark’s dedication to their case as well as the settlement he negotiated for them. 
After this case settled, one of the clients gave Lane & Lane Partner Mark Brown this picture, which now hangs in his office. Here is the inscription:
Atty Mark A. Brown
@ Lane & Lane, LLC, 

Thank you for fighting, supporting, believing, and achieving a closure of 10 years of misery! You are our 'Hero'!

- D. White, CFD, 2019
Fred Lane's ISBA Trial Technique Course - September 10
Last month, Lane & Lane Partner Scott Lane wrapped up another semester of teaching Fred Lane's Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Trial Technique Course. The program covers civil and criminal trial work at all phases, from the point of view of both the defendant and the plaintiff or prosecutor. You can learn more about the course here. To register online, click here. The next session begins September 10.
Are your children playing on safe playground equipment?
Fresh air, friends, and exercise are why parents (and grandparents – we have several in our office!) love to take little ones to playgrounds and outdoor play areas. But it's important to make sure that faulty equipment, improper surfaces, and careless behavior don't ruin the fun.
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, over 200,000 children go to the emergency room every year due to injuries associated with playground equipment. Nearly 80% of playground injuries are caused by falls, so you need to keep an eye out for potential hazards.
  • Surfaces around the playground equipment should have at least 12 inches of wood chips, mulch, sand, or pea gravel, or mats made of safety-tested rubber or rubber-like materials.

  • Avoid playgrounds with exposed concrete footings, rocks, or tree stumps.

  • Playground equipment should be free of protruding bolt ends, “S” hooks, and other sharp points and edges.
And while you probably don’t bring a measuring tape with you to the playground, it’s good to be aware of best practices for creating safe play environments for children. Here are guidelines established by the National Program for Playground Safety (NPPS).
  • The area under and around the playground equipment should be a minimum of 6 feet in all directions.

  • Swing set areas should be twice the height of the suspending bar, both in the back and front of the swings.

  • Structures more than 30 inches high should be at least 9 feet apart.

  • Platforms higher than 30 inches should have guardrails or barriers.

Openings between rails, bars, rungs, and ropes of cargo nets should be less than 3-1/2 inches or more than 9 inches.
Finally, even if you love hot, sweltering days, consider this: the NPPS reports that 67% of public playgrounds are exposed to full sun during the peak hours of 10 am – 2 pm. If playground equipment is hot to the touch, it is too hot for your child’s bare skin.  
If you watched Jennifer Isidro run, jump rope and hit the heavy bag for 45-60 minutes every Monday through Friday at the gym, you’d think, “Wow - she’s got her routine down.”

You’d never know that what she does on weekday mornings is, for her, well, routine. It’s the two or three hours she works out every Saturday and Sunday that she truly enjoys. And it’s been that way since she was a child.
Since the mid- to late-70s, Jennifer has trained as a kickboxer. “My dad was a civilian accountant for the U.S. Air Force but he also had a side job teaching karate,” she explains. “He was a black belt. I was ‘Daddy’s Little Girl’ and followed him around, and copied every move of his. His routine became my routine. I learned so much from him – including discipline.” Jennifer and her dad remained close until he passed away unexpectedly in 2011. 
In February of this year, Jennifer became concerned about her professional routine; she learned that the medical office where she had worked for three years was closing. Her employer wanted to place her in a different location in the city, but she wasn’t keen on the neighborhood or the commute.
"I want to be a beach bum when I grow up."
A few days after hearing the news, Jennifer happened to run into one of the attorneys who worked across the hall. He had heard the clinic was closing and asked what she planned to do.
She said she wasn’t sure, and jokingly added, “Unless your firm has an opening!” He said, “Wait a minute… can I have your phone number?”
The next day, Jennifer received a call from their law firm’s office manager, who invited her to come over to talk about her background. Based on Jennifer’s 20 years of experience in the medical field, which included internal medicine, genetics and working in a hospital, she was offered the position of Intake Specialist at Lane & Lane. Given the number of medical malpractice cases our firm handles, she quickly proved to be a perfect fit. 

“When I worked at the medical office I always thought, ‘Everyone at the law firm is so nice’ that I always tried to accommodate them if they weren’t feeling well. I am so thankful,” Jennifer says.

Jennifer spends much of her day talking to people who call our firm with questions about an injury. They discuss what happened and she gathers details to review with our attorneys to determine if we can directly help or assist in other ways. She still has a lot to learn, she says, but that's one of the many reasons she’s content at our firm. “I’m in my 40s but still want to learn,” Jennifer explains. And that includes surfing. “I want to be a beach bum when I grow up.”  
In June Jennifer (far right) and her teenage daughter and son (far left) visited her younger sister and her family in Tucson.
Lincoln Square Greekfest, July 26-28, features Greek food, music, dancing and family activities. Donation.

Cruisin' for a Cure, July 27. Sail with cocktails, listen to live music, and watch fireworks. For pancreatic cancer research. For professionals in their 20s and 30s.

South Loop Beer & Cider Fest, July 27. Beer, hard cider, live music, food for sale.

Bantu Fest, July 27-28. Dance to live African music, shop from vendors, eat food from 30 countries. Free.

Chicago Bears Training Camp, July 27-August 10, in Bourbonnais. Free.

The Big Fake Wedding Chicago, August 1. Attend a ceremony, enjoy a drink and appetizers, and dance at the reception while you visit with wedding vendors.

Festival Cubano, August 9-11, features Cuban music, dancers, Latin American food, vendors and a kid's area. $20.

Northalsted Market Days, August 10-11, is a gay-friendly street fair and music festival. 300 food, art and craft vendors plus musical acts. Donation.
Millennium Park Summer Music Series, Through August 15, features music artists Monday and Thursday evenings. Free.

Oak Park Micro Brew Review, August 17, features tastings of 200 craft beers from 80 Midwest microbreweries.

Windy City West Indian Carnival, August 17, offers music and vendors plus a Parade of Bands Competition with outrageous costumes. In Harvey. Free.

Lagunitas Beer Circus, August 24, features entertainment by 100 performers (aerialists, burlesque, marching band), food trucks, games and a costume contest. For age 21+.

Port Clinton Art Festival, August 24-25, features 260 artists, a youth division and kids' art activities. Free.

Kidz Bop Live, August 25, is a concert for kids. The group performs kid-friendly versions of today's hottest pop hits. Tinley Park.

Jazzin' at the Shedd, Through August 28, hear musicians and vocalists, enjoy views from the Shedd Aquarium terrace, purchase cocktails and food.
If you or someone you care about has been injured by someone else's negligence or fault,
and you're ready to take action to obtain justice - the full, fair and complete compensation you deserve - please contact our Chicago-based personal injury law firm today.
Questions? Call us at 312-332-1400 or contact us .