Restore justice to Traumatic Brain Injured worker Karrie Vickery
  • Petitioning Fred Foreman

This petition will be delivered to:

Chief Judge, 19th Judicial Circuit Court
Fred Foreman
Governor of Illinois
Pat Quinn
Chief Judge, 2nd District Appellate Court
Robert Mangan
Founders, Executive Officers, Bed Bath & Beyond
Warren Eisenberg and Leonard Feinstein
Chairman, Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission
Michael Latz

Restore justice to Traumatic Brain Injured worker Karrie Vickery

    1. Petition by

      Friends of Karrie

The growing abuses of powerful corporations and the diminishing rights and quality-of-life of American workers has never been more evident than in the case of Karrie Vickery v Bed Bath & Beyond.

Karrie was working as a manager for Bed Bath & Beyond in a Chicago suburb on August 11, 1992 when she sustained a traumatic brain injury from being struck in the head by several unsecured shipping containers. She became totally disabled and unable to perform daily tasks, to say nothing of returning to work.

When the company illegally terminated her disability and medical benefits 6 weeks after her injury she appealed to the Illinois Industrial Commission, the government body charged with resolving injured workers' cases. Karrie waited 11 long years without disability pay or medical benefits before her case was finalized.

Finally, in 2003 Karrie’s case reached its conclusion after the Illinois Supreme Court refused to hear any more appeals from Bed Bath & Beyond. Karrie's injury and BB&B's responsibilty for that injury were confirmed by the Industrial Commission and the Circuit and Appellate courts. The medical and disability benefits awarded for life were to commence within 30 days. However, Bed Bath & Beyond refused to pay any benefits. They did not comply with the court order for over a year and when they did begin paying benefits in 2004 they reduced and delayed the payments ordered by the court. And they refused to provide medical benefits and reimburse medical expenses Karrie had paid herself.

Karrie spent the next 6 years trying to get her lawyer to act on her behalf and enforce the court order in full. He did not do so.

In late 2010 Karrie appealed directly to the Industrial Commission for help in enforcing the order and securing urgently needed medical treatment for her worsening health. Instead of rectifying the situation, the Commission held an ex parte hearing, accepted false statements from the employer, ignored Karrie's written testimony and brought her benefits to a screeching halt.

Karrie’s civil rights, including those under the ADA, have been violated by Bed Bath & Beyond and now by the government agency charged with protecting injured workers like Karrie. Twenty years after having her career, her life, her entire future ripped from her, she still has none of the benefits and protections the law is supposed to provide her. The governor of Illinois, Pat Quinn, has the authority to intervene on Karrie’s behalf and we are asking that he do so.

Traumatic brain injuries are insidious and far-reaching. They impact every aspect of a person's health, including the endocrine system, cognitive and functional capacities, etc., and require comprehensive life-long treatment. Without coverage for specialty medical care and without the means to pay even basic expenses, Karrie’s life cannot be sustained for long. Since this petetion was begun, Karrie has almost died twice from respiratory and organ failure – the direct result of worsening health issues that started with her head injury and which went largely untreated for many years because BB&B refused to provide medical benefits.

Despite the influence of powerful corporate interests, we believe Karrie can be given a fighting chance at life by people collectively speaking up and we ask you to join us by signing our petition today.

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Still Here

      We had a bit of a scare on Saturday evening. Karrie became mentally altered and then non-responsive and was on her way to another coma. Thankfully, her nurse, who knew Karrie and had experience recognizing subtle changes in a person, picked up on the shift in Karrie's behavior and alerted a supervisor who then called a rapid response team to the room. A plan was under way to take her to ICU if she did not improve. Fortunately, the ICU doctor called to her room was the pulmonologist who treated Karrie when she was first brought to UCLA last April and he ordered she be put on the Bi-PAP right away. Within a half hour Karrie came to and was lucid enough to carry on a brief conversation.

      Karrie has been showing signs lately of the myxedema crisis state that preceded her respiratory failure last year and again in April. The swelling in her legs and body has been getting worse and she has been altered mentally on several occasions. These are symptoms that usually precede a full coma and organ failure. Some of the best articles on myxedema coma acknowledge they aren't sure what brings on the respiratory failure but it appears that the hypothyroidism results in a buildup of co2 (carbon dioxide) that leads to the brain shutting down.

      Probably the most significant sign that her situation was deteriorating is she had begun to "see" and "feel" the world she inhabited in her mind last summer while in a coma for 5 days. She has described it in vivid detail and it has its own distinctive qualities that she recognizes immediately. While it may be hard to pin down exactly what caused her non-responsive condition, she knows her body far better than anyone so for her to feel herself slipping back into the coma state may be the best indicator that something is wrong.

      She is doing better the past couple of days – up walking again and communicating and looking forward to getting TBI rehab and moving forward. Your continued healing thoughts, prayers, vibes and wishes are much needed and appreciated.

    2. Time For Action

      We are so encouraged by the many new friends and petition signers who have joined us in the past few weeks. Many of you have stated that you will not be shopping at Bed Bath & Beyond until the company rectifies the unjust actions they have taken in Karrie’s case. While we have never officially called for a boycott of the store, we appreciate the effort and sacrifice involved in standing up for Karrie in this way.

      Karrie has a unique idea about sending a message that we want to share with you. Tomorrow, August 11, marks the 22nd anniversary of the day she walked into the BB&B warehouse in Deerfield, IL to do an inventory count. It was back-to-school season at the store and everyone was gearing up for the busiest and most profitable quarter of the year. The focus on selling as much merchandise as possible played a big role in the warehouse being overstocked and safety precautions being ignored — and what led to several unsecured shipping containers toppling and crashing onto Karrie’s head and neck as she knelt on the floor to do her job.

      Bed Bath & Beyond has continued to grow and profit tremendously over the past 22 years. Despite this, they fought fulfilling their obligation to Karrie for 11 years following her injury. They were willing to spend tens of thousands of dollars on lawyers and doctors in an attempt to avoid their responsibility but in the end the courts found them responsible and accountable. When the final decision was made in Karrie’s favor in 2003, Bed Bath & Beyond was required to begin paying benefits within 30 days. But they didn’t. Instead, they claimed their insurance company was bankrupt and couldn’t pay the award. Karrie waited another year before she received any of the judgment.

      In light of this, Karrie wants to make sure Bed Bath & Beyond never runs out of money again. To that end, she asks that if you’re looking for a good deal on a new shower curtain or comfortable bedding, or you’re outfitting a college student’s dorm room, by all means, shop at Bed Bath & Beyond. And when you do so, let the company know that you’d like some of the money spent to go toward covering Karrie’s medical and disability benefits.

      The most direct line to Bed Bath & Beyond is via their online contact page:
      http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/selfservice/ContactUs
      You can fill out a short form, or call 1-800-462-3966 or, if you prefer the face-to-face approach, speak to a manager at your local store. Include links to the Friends of Karrie Face Book page and the Change.org petition page so they can learn more.

      https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfKarrie
      https://www.change.org/petitions/lisa-madigan-restore-justice-to-traumatic-brain-injured-worker-karrie-vickery

      Whether you choose to boycott or spend, it is vital to let Bed Bath & Beyond know why you are taking the action you are and that you stand with an injured worker who should never have had to endure such hardship for 22 years.

      Thank you and enjoy these August days of summer.

    3. 500

      Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!! The petition has reached 500 signatures. This is a milestone we had hoped for but were never guaranteed. Coming at this time of Karrie's wedding anniversary and just a few days before the anniversary of her life-changing injury is especially meaningful and poignant.

      We thank each of you who signed and especially those who passed along the news and asked others to join. By sharing this petition, you brought Karrie's struggle to an ever-expanding circle of friends that otherwise would never have been reached. We want to extend special thanks for the efforts of Carrie Quisenberry and Leslie Blackburn Harlow, two amazing women who spent untold hours and energy promoting the petition around the globe. Your devotion and compassion have made all the difference.

      The petition will remain active for a while still. We will continue to welcome signatures and comments. There is still a long road to travel before Karrie receives the justice she deserves and the chance at a future every soul deserves. What you have helped accomplish with this petition is a major achievement along the way. Blessings and peace to you all.

    4. Reached 500 signatures
    5. Almost There

      Thanks to the renewed efforts of Karrie's supporters, the petition is only 30 signatures shy of reaching the goal of 500 signers! We are so excited and encouraged to see this. With the anniversary of Karrie's injury coming up soon on August 11, we want to make this year especially memorable by sending a successful petition to the government officials listed on the petition as well as to the owners of Bed Bath & Beyond. The company ultimately has the responsibility and the power to rectify the life-shattering impact of their negligence and non-compliance. If they won't be compelled by morality or the courts, then perhaps the sound of your collective voice will make an impression. Thank you for standing with Karrie.

    6. Hospitalized again

      On Friday, April 18, Karrie was admitted to UCLA hospital with respiratory failure. Fortunately, it was treated before any organ damage occurred. She remains in ICU with pneumonia and dangerous levels of CO2 in her blood. Her heart is recovering from the failure it suffered so we are grateful for that and are hoping she will be able to move out of ICU soon.

      One of the major factors impacting her respiration is the sleep apnea she developed as a result of the TBI she suffered on the job 21 years ago. It is one of the many medical issues included in the 2003 court Order that required Bed Bath and Beyond provide coverage for all injury-related expenses. It is why we continue to demand action via the petition and why your support and spreading the word is so valuable.

    7. Ups and Downs

      Since being released from the hospital last July, Karrie has experienced periods of improvement followed by periods of struggle and regression. Her liver has recovered but she experiences intractable pain and worsening symptoms of severe hypothyroidism on a daily basis. She now requires respiratory assistance via an oxygen concentrator and has returned to using her walker. We are a bit discouraged by this but remain hopeful that she will turn a corner soon.

      The struggle to obtain the medical coverage and benefits awarded her is on-going. Bed Bath and Beyond continues to contribute to the treatment of TBI patients at the Head Injury Association and, according to the WSJ, has seen its profits continue to rise with each quarter– but they will not acknowledge their responsibility to Karrie and her care. We will continue to petition for justice and ask all those who find the actions of BB&B unacceptable to no longer shop there. Thank you for your support.

    8. Karrie Hospitalized

      Karrie was admitted to Cedars Sinai on Saturday, July 6. She has been growing steadily worse the past few months as the effects of the TBI continue to weaken her body. She stopped breathing on the way to the ER and her liver failed. Fortunately, her heart suffered no major harm and her liver is beginning to recover.

      She has a long road of recovery ahead and it is now even more imperative that Bed Bath and Beyond be compelled to fulfill their obligations to provide medical coverage and reimbursement.

    9. Reached 250 signatures
    10. Friends of Karrie Web Site Now Open

      We are excited to announce the Friends of Karrie web site where we will be sharing more of Karrie's story and her path to healing. Check out our blog and Learn More pages for information about TBI, intractable pain, workers' compensation and more.

      With millions of individuals and their families dealing with head injuries, PTSD, auto-immune disorders and other chronic illnesses, it is our hope to be a source of information and encouragement for those suffering.

      http://www.friendsofkarrie.org

    11. Celebrate Labor Day

      This coming Monday, September 3, we observe Labor Day in the U.S., a holiday originally designed to celebrate the contribution of American workers to our society. Creation of the holiday was inspired in large part by the Pullman Strike of 1894, an organized effort by railroad workers to protest untenable conditions. Incidentally, the strike began in Illinois. It ended in bloodshed after the railroad companies enlisted the aid and cooperation of President Cleveland, who ordered federal troops to shut down the strike.

      A century later American workers like Karrie still live with the devastating consequences of corporate greed and neglect, and too many times big business still calls the shots when it comes to government oversight and enforcement of laws that are supposed to protect workers.

      This Labor Day, amidst the cookouts and shopping and relaxing, please take a moment to stand up for an injured worker who deserves the justice and care her employer has denied her.

    12. Reached 200 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Gayle Smith CHATSWORTH, CA
      • 14 days ago

      My heart aches for Karrie and her husband

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Gregory Peralta VENICE, CA
      • 22 days ago

      Shes an amazing person and this needs to be rectified

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Susan Stull CLIFTON, CO
      • 28 days ago

      I was injured at work in 2008. I worked for WalMart. My life has been turned upside down not just from the injury but from a completely bias work comp system. I can no longer work. I have lost my house etc. I am ready to give up just so I don't have to deal with work comp anymore. I would like to start a petition but need help I also hope to start an online support group for injured workers. I found one called "A Workcover Victims diary" its in australia I hope to start one here in Colorado. I can be reached at sstull2@yahoo.com. I welcome any ideas or questions. I can't sit and type for very long but will respond as soon as possible.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Ester Ramirez BOSTON, MA
      • about 1 month ago

      Karrie is a friend from College.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • David Palmer RANCHO CUCAMONGA, CA
      • about 1 month ago

      It's a mockery of the court to not uphold the decision rendered.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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