SC

SC Workers Comp Commissioner Under Fire

SUSAN BARDEN RIPPED AMID RENOMINATION FIGHT … Years ago, this website held forth almost daily regarding our views on reforming South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws.  We also used to routinely eviscerate the Palmetto State’s Workers’ Compensation Committee (SCWCC) – whose members receive huge taxpayer-funded salaries and generous per diem payments in exchange for making…

SUSAN BARDEN RIPPED AMID RENOMINATION FIGHT …

Years ago, this website held forth almost daily regarding our views on reforming South Carolina’s workers’ compensation laws.  We also used to routinely eviscerate the Palmetto State’s Workers’ Compensation Committee (SCWCC) – whose members receive huge taxpayer-funded salaries and generous per diem payments in exchange for making our state dramatically less competitive.

South Carolina has actually seen a little bit of positive forward motion since our tirades, ranking No. 17 nationally in the cost of workers’ comp premiums in 2014 (compared to No. 12 nationally in 2008).

That’s still not where we want to be, but it’s better …

Anyway, one member of the SCWCC – who makes $124,000 a year (in addition to an estimated $10,000 annual in per diem payments) – is facing a bitter fight at the S.C. State House this week in her effort to be reappointed to another six-year term.

Her name?  Susan Barden.

SUSAN BARDEN
SUSAN BARDEN

Barden is in trouble for a variety of reasons.  First, she’s not handling as many cases as her fellow overpaid commissioners – averaging only around 11.8 hearings per month over the last two years (some commissioners and former commissioners tell us they used to handle at least that many hearings each week).

But it’s not the low workload that has some injured workers’ advocates concerned … it’s the reasoning behind it.

According to a recent article in Lawyers’ Weekly, “Lawyers are running away from her.”

How come?

“They don’t think they’re going to get a fair hearing,” one workers’ compensation attorney told the publication.  “If you have any imperfections in your client, that can be used subjectively against them.”

Our first reaction to this allegation was to file it under the category of “trial lawyer spin” – just another gripe from a liberal lawyer looking to get more favorable rulings while jacking up the cost of doing business in the Palmetto State.

In other words, we assumed it was more of the same stuff this website railed against back in the day …

But then we were forwarded this excerpt from one of Barden’s rulings …

I do not find Claimant to be credible….. I base this finding on my observations of Claimant at the hearing and on the (noticeably inconsistent delivery of his testimony … Claimant appeared at all cost to avoid eye contact with the undersigned notwithstanding an instruction from Claimant’s own attorney to direct Claimant’s responses to me; whenever our eyes did meet (generally only upon my questioning) claimant quickly averted his own. During direct examination, Claimant would only look at his counsel, down at the table, or at his hands.

Hold up … what?

This guy lost his case because of poor eye contact?

Barden recently testified before a S.C. Senate judiciary subcommittee that she doesn’t require claimants’ to look her in the eye … but there’s a damning addendum to the excerpt above.

The claimant in that particular case?  It turns out U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) records indicated he was legally blind.  In other words, he couldn’t have looked Barden in the eyes if he had wanted to.

Ouch …

Barden is also facing criticism for the heavy-handed tactics being employed by her attorney, Cam Lewis, in an effort to mute criticism of her record.  In late February, Lewis sent a letter to another lawyer demanding his client – Florence attorney E. Hood Temple – “cease and desist” raising “negative inferences” about Barden.

If Temple failed to stop criticizing Barden, the lawyer wrote that he and his client would “take the steps necessary to redress this uncomfortable situation.”

Sheesh …

Barden will appear before a Senate judiciary panel again this week … and our guess it will be a very contentious affair.

Will she prevail?  Does it matter?  Whatever the law says, it’s clear that workers’ compensation – like everything else in South Carolina – is political.  Meaning it’s all about who you know.

In fact that politicization has continued under S.C. governor Nikki Haley – even though she vowed it would stop.

“Instead of stacking the Commission with political insiders, former legislators and attorneys, the Haley Administration will ensure that the Commission is balanced with accomplished and respected members of the business community,” an excerpt from Haley’s 2010 jobs plan stated.

Curious, then, that Haley appointed Mike Campbell – the son of former S.C. governor Carroll Campbell, Jr. – to one of these plum posts in 2014.

***

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22 comments

Bible Thumper April 4, 2016 at 9:52 am

I suspect that Southern Charm casting director picked T-Rav’s new babe. I wonder if the script calls for Nadia Bakalova to get pregnant.

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shifty henry April 4, 2016 at 10:08 am

hmmm, good thought….. actually to me, the article reads like Will wrote it.

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mamatiger92 April 4, 2016 at 9:48 am

Off topic, but these video ads are a real pain in the ass, FITS.

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shifty henry April 4, 2016 at 10:08 am

agree..!!

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Flip April 4, 2016 at 10:13 am

ABP is your friend!

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Bible Thumper April 4, 2016 at 10:02 am

I remember Senator John C. Land III (ret. now) use to represent clients before the commissioners while serving in the senate. I would like to know how many lawyer-legislators represent clients before the commissioners.

By the way, Susan Barden is right. The guy in the photo above is faking.

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shifty henry April 4, 2016 at 11:09 am

Yeah, if I had fallen off that ladder (from the top) I wouldn’t be grinning.

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Brigid April 4, 2016 at 10:05 am

She sounds like a psychotic. Get her out of there now.

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shifty henry April 4, 2016 at 11:04 am

I’d bang her in a heartbeat — I enjoy women who make eye contact while … A side note here Brigid, I think you would have been a super girlfriend when I was a biker — but you would have to remove your sunglasses.

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Wont Back Down April 4, 2016 at 10:09 am

You think this is bad, SC OSHA is a huge waste of tax dollars, too. Their construction site inspections are a joke!! What OSHA inspector in their right mind would show up at a workplace, then wait hours before anything is actually inspected????? Its a scam, I tell you. A fucking scam!

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shifty henry April 4, 2016 at 10:10 am

Is that still going on? I heard stories about that several years ago.

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Wont Back Down April 4, 2016 at 10:14 am

Same old shit, Shifty. Its a joke. They give contractors a few hours to run around and make corrections. Then, the Hazardous Safety program mandated by the feds that State OSHA suppose to enforce, big joke. And I am talking everything from small contractors to ones as big as those working at Boeing. They have safety inspectors/directors, of course. But its still a joke.

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Flip April 4, 2016 at 10:15 am

Do they get a few twenties slipped to them before they decide to tie their shoelaces for a few hours?

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Leave people alone April 4, 2016 at 12:32 pm

OSHA kills jobs and drives away industry, so if they are letting people slide I say “good”!

You’re right, OSHA is a scam.

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Flip April 4, 2016 at 10:12 am

If she wants more eye contact maybe she should try a more suitable approach for the type of person she seems to be: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Wcr63XMfeY

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jimlewisowb April 4, 2016 at 12:16 pm

A Fuckin’ Cockroach who looks like a Fuckin’ Cockroach

Twice in the last 6 weeks, willie you are on a roll

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Nathan Hale April 4, 2016 at 1:24 pm

And how many people got ripped off by Mike Campbell and his partners in the rent-a-scooter deal?

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truthbetole April 4, 2016 at 4:44 pm

What the fuck? Again.

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Lone Ranger April 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm

Ummmm…Kemosabe…why does this remind Tonto of how the equally corrupt SC Work Force (formerly ESC) Commissioners bankrupted one BIL out of that fund?

Well well, Tonto—good question don’tcha know—it’s because the two black former ESC commissioners colluded with black legislators and RINOs for an end-run

That’s right—with their stooge black racist anointed then ESC executive “director” they put OTHER black racist employees in ESC “judge” positions to steal money

And when the gutless RINO SC legislators who caved to allow this got wind of employER’S rage then they saw their political heads on the block—it was NOT funny

There had to be a wholesale purge of these corrupt black scum to stop the bleeding on the ESC funds and the robbing of taxpayers and of SC employERS, too

You know—just like this 2016 election year when the SAME gutless RINO legislators joined Haley and Joe Wilson to rip the flag—yep—we ARE coming for YOU !!!

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Wilson April 4, 2016 at 10:28 pm

This is hilarious. We all know Fits gets paid to run these articles, this one apparently by the plaintiff’s bar, to run this nonsense. And one spearheaded by Democrat and newsmaker Hood Temple at that. Why else would a Republican complain about a work comp commissioner who is conservative and being run out by a bunch of plaintiff lawyers. Just dig up the archived footage of the subcommittee hearing from a couple of weeks ago and see what a joke those lawyers were and the complaints against her were.

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LouieBuoy April 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Funny! She’s in the pocket of some insurance carrier. I sat in on a wc case a few years ago in Aiken. The insurer claimed to have damning surveillance video of a claimant, only to be corrected that they had filmed the claimants relative living at the same address. Ha! Too funny! I’ve seen carriers spend $100,000 in legal fees to fight a case only worth $25,000. And I’ve seen them coerce a claimant to take $1,000, when they had offered $3,000 the week before. So if you are a claimant in SC with an on the job injury of any severity it is well worth your time to seek legal representation to protect yourself from stupidity and fraud by the insurers and commissioners. If you an an employer, you should and can protect your employees against this abuse.

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