Wis. Lawsuit Alleges Misconduct by Commissioner’s Office

June 29, 2006

The Wisconsin insurance commissioner’s office and an office that regulates workers’ compensation approved new rules in secret and refused to turn over public records, The Employer Group Inc. alleges in a lawsuit alleges.

The Employer Group Inc., a Madison staffing service, filed the lawsuit this week in Dane County Circuit Court asking a judge to find the rules invalid and order the records released.

“It’s democracy 101,” Employer Group’s attorney Jon Axelrod said.

Eileen Mallow, assistant deputy commissioner of insurance, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Messages left by the Associated Press at the Wisconsin Compensation Rating Bureau were not immediately returned.

Among the new requirements, staffing firms will need to get separate workers’ compensation policies for each company they serve starting in November, rather than a single “master” policy for all companies, the lawsuit contends.

The Employer Group argues staffing companies will have a hard time getting separate policies because many insurers issue policies that cover a large number of workers. Many staffing firms serve small businesses, which means they likely won’t meet the minimum number of employees for a policy, the lawsuit contends.

The two offices never held a public hearing on the rules, as required by state law, the lawsuit alleges.

The Rating Bureau also refused to comply with a June request from The Employer Group’s attorneys for records about the rules. The bureau’s attorney, Paul Riegel, said in a letter the state’s open records law doesn’t apply to the bureau because it’s not a state or local government body.

The lawsuit points to a 2004 affidavit in a state appeals court case in which the bureau’s vice president called the office a “quasi-governmental agency” created under state statutes.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.