Watertown woman’s ordeal shared with S.D. workers’ compensation advisory committee

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The husband of a Watertown kindergarten teacher whose leg was severely injured by a student argued Monday that publicly-funded insurance pools in South Dakota need to be brought under the same state regulations as their private competitors.

Jason Pieper told the story of his wife, Michelle, to the South Dakota Workers’ Compensation Advisory Committee. A student threw a chair into her left leg and knee on March 2, 2017.

She accepted a $680,000 settlement earlier this year from the Watertown school district and the Associated School Boards of South Dakota workers’ compensation fund. Attorneys for the district and the association had refused an earlier settlement of $100,000.

Pieper’s remarks Monday came during the public-comment period of the commission meeting. At the conclusion of his statement, chair Scott Stern of Sioux Falls asked Pieper what his objective was. Pieper said he was author of HB 1242, which Representative Nancy York had sponsored for him.

During the House Commerce and Energy Committee hearing, Pieper was told he should have taken his complaints first to the workers’ comp council regarding the conduct of Claims Associates, its related company Rehab Associates, and the Associated School Boards’ protective trust.

The House committee voted 7-5 to reject an amended version of HB 1242.

“As an honest mistake, we bypassed this committee,” Pieper told Stern. Pieper said his statement by telephone Monday was to assure that the legislative committee’s request was met. No other council member said anything.

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