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Gate Swings in Favor of Employer

Case Study

Gate Swings in Favor of Employer

October 09, 2019
Emily E. Borg John M. Allen

Paper company successfully defends workers’ compensation action.

An Illinois workers’ compensation case that hinged on which way a factory-floor gate swung culminated in victory for the employer, a Goldberg Segalla client, after the claimant failed to prove the incident in which he allegedly was injured happened the way he said.

The 33-year-old employee alleged he was rushing up some stairs to unjam a paper-corrugator machine when a coworker told him he wasn’t needed, causing him to stop suddenly, grab the post of a gate, and sustain a “jarring” injury to his neck and arm. Seeking $50,000 in disability benefits and reimbursement for unpaid medical bills and legal fees, the man filed a workers’ compensation claim in April 2017. But a subsequent investigation by his employer—a leading global producer of fiber-based packaging, pulp, and paper—revealed that he grabbed the gate, not the post, and that it swung away from him, making a jarring injury virtually impossible.

Tapped to defend the paper company was Goldberg Segalla partner Emily E. Borg, a member of the firm’s Workers’ Compensation practice group, whose mission is to achieve significant and sustainable reductions to the overall expense of each client’s workers’ compensation program. Working with fellow partners Jennifer Y. Weller and John M. Allen in the paper-company case, Emily mounted a successful defense of the client during a trial beginning on August 22, 2019, with testimony by the plant supervisor and shift supervisor corroborating the employer’s investigation and a co-worker saying he didn’t witness an accident on the date cited in the claim. On September 18, an arbitration ruling was issued in favor of the employer, signaling a victory for the Goldberg Segalla team. According to the arbitrator, the petitioner had failed to prove an accident had occurred and was not a credible witness at trial. The ruling was an impressive turn of events given that the same arbitrator had recommended a less-than-ideal, pre-trial settlement rejected by the client.


Goldberg Segalla’s success in efficient file-handling, as well as long-range strategic risk-management, has earned us a national reputation for exceeding our clients’ expectations and driving positive change in the practice of workers’ compensation law. One of the first law firms ever to approach workers’ compensation in this manner and at this scale, we have been able to achieve extraordinary cost savings for leading employers in sectors ranging from construction to the gig economy.

Emily has dedicated her nearly 15-year legal career to workers’ compensation defense, providing proactive counsel to clients who rely on her to vigorously defend their claims while ensuring their overall business objectives are met. Highly knowledgeable in all facets of workers’ compensation claims, their litigation, and their management, she is a trusted counselor to clients in manufacturing, distribution, staffing, facility management, construction, financial services, and other industries. That experience—including extensive Illinois Appellate Court argument experience—has translated into a 90-percent success rate before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and Illinois courts.