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Illinois trooper costs State $8,000,000

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Emergency Services Vehicles

Illinois trooper costs State $8,000,000

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 10, 2011

Remember hearing about the crash in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, when a trooper crossed the median and hit a car, killing two sisters? That was on November 23, 2007.

Illinois State Police Trooper Matt Mitchell was responding to assist at a crash. As I understand it, police were already on the scene, so he didn't need to be going 126MPH. Not only that, he was talking on his cell phone and texting. The State settled with the girls' parents in November for $8,000,000.

I didn't read about that in November; did you?

Mitchell was in the news again, after a workers' compensation arbitrator, Jennifer Teague, according to the Associated Press, "sought to keep a public hearing on the case secret." Mitchell is trying to collect workers' comp benefits for injuries he sustained in the crash. The arbitrator tried to keep the hearing secret. Thanks to the Belleville News-Democrat and FOIA, she was unsuccessful.

In an email from Teague to her court reporter, the AP says she wrote, "We are going to do it on the sly with no press."

Mitchell's attorney was trying to reduce media attention. Mitchell's workers' comp hearing was scheduled for December 20 in Belleville, but Teague advanced it to December 17 and moved it to Collinsville without public notice.

Teague's ruling on compensation has not been made public yet. It should be scrapped, and Miller should be forced to re-file and have the full hearing conducted in public, as is required.

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