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.
Karrie's workers' compensation case was successfully argued before the IIC in 2000 and the decision to award her disability and medical benefits for life was upheld by the Circuit and Appellate Courts of Illinois in 2002 and 2003. Surviving without disability income or medical care, she waited 11 years from the date she sustained her Traumatic Brain Injury to see her case resolved. Despite the court order Bed Bath and Beyond has failed to comply for the last 9 years and refuses to provide the benefits rightfully hers.
During the 2010 holidays, in a rushed and improper hearing that violated Karrie's civil rights, including those under the ADA, the IIC terminated all of her benefits based on false statements by the employer. The IIC did this fully aware that without disability income and medical coverage Karrie cannot access the comprehensive medical treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries that is critical to her health and life.
Bed Bath and Beyond must be held accountable for their refusal to comply with the law and accept the responsibility that is theirs under the Worker's Compensation Act.
As the highest office holder in the State of Illinois, directly overseeing the IIC, I ask you to stand with Karrie and ensure she receives the justice and care she deserves.