ANOTHER injured claimant tells her story

From Thu Aug 31 00:30:39 2000
Date: Sat, 11 Dec 1999 16:39:14 EST
Subject: posting my horror story

Dear Bill,

What a gem and unfortunate necessity your website is.   I would like to add 
my horror story to your list.  

While employed as a public school teacher with the Fillmlore Unified School 
District, I was sprayed with pesticide in the doorway of my classroom.   My 
injury was witnessed by several people including one of the teachers with 
whom I shared a classroom, the site principal, the assistant superintendent, 
and two other employees (along with the pest control employee who sprayed 
me).  Although I sought medical care the day of the injury (my own family 
physician's staff turned me away from care then gave me two wrong numbers to 
poison control), the school district did not send me for medical care that 
day or subsequent to my repeated documented verbal and written requests for 
medical treatment.   The school district was self-insured through Southern 
California Risk Management Associates of Oxnard.   They alleged they didn't 
send me to the employer's designated medical facility based upon their claim 
they didn't think I'd like it.  They offered no explanation why I wasn't sent 
to any of the numerous other medical facilitities for medical care and blood 
tests as appropriate.  

The school district finally scheduled a "medical evaluation" on their behalf 
with a Dr. Timothy Reynolds approximately two months after the toxic chemical 
injury.   In the days before this appointment, I was contacted both at home 
and work on behalf of SCRMA and the school district by a "private 
investigator."   The man, who identified himself after I insisted he do so as 
both Phillip Beselle and Phillip DeSalle, made numerous false and misleading 
statements.  When he contacted me at work (I was still struggling to continue 
working like a stupidly dedicated teacher), he threatened that he knew where 
and when I worked then demanded to know if I was going to "cooperate" with 
him by dropping the workers' compensation claim filed as a result of the 
toxic chemical exposure.   When I informed the new assistant superintendent 
of the harassment and threats made, she responded by informing me their 
office had just reconfirmed the personal and private information (home phone 
number, etc.) my site principal had provided to the private investigator.

I did not drop the workers' compensation claim, and was sent to Dr. Timothy 
Reynolds of Los Angeles.  There, I was first subjected to the verbal abuse of 
his assistant.  Then the same assistant, who was not permitted to draw my 
blood for testing, was permitted to conduct respiratory testing which 
included the administration of three times the normal dose of albuterol 
within minutes.  I experienced a severe respiratory reaction to the overdose; 
the doctor, school district, and their insurance carrier again assumed no 
responsibility for my injuries.  I was later informed by a specialist that 
the administration of methacholine was suspected, and I was told by my family 
physician that the methacholine could have killed me.

I sold most of my furniture to cover some early expenses, then was forced to 
choose between keeping my apartment or eating and attempting to access 
medical care through the private medical insurance provided through the 
school district.  I found private doctors were unwilling to provide treatment 
to me because my need for it arose from a work injury, yet no benefits were 
being provided through the workers' compensation system.  My family doctor, a 
caring and dedicated doctor, utilized ingenious methods to permit me to 
access some medical care through my private insurance carrier.

In the meantime, I was forced to move in with family out of the area.  My 
mother attempted to assist me with the move by driving my belongings and 
keepsakes to my sister's in an open trailer.  She reported that the trailer 
began to fishtail and subsequently almost everything was destroyed as it was 
strewn across the freeway and into the river below.  My mother's car was also 

It has been approximately seventeen months since the toxic chemical exposure 
at work.   I learned after a deposition held on behalf of the school district 
that they are falsely alleging I never requested medical care.   The school 
district has yet to provide any medical care or any other workers' 
compensation benefits.  They recently terminated my private medical insurance 
benefits without notice, and refused to provide continuing medical coverage 
through COBRA.   According to the school district's limited interpretation of 
a COBRA qualifying event, I can only qualify for COBRA benefits if I submit a 
forced resignation.

I have been informed there is no agency which regulates school districts, 
because they are County employers; the County referred my concerns to the CA 
Department of the Insurance Commissioner which referred me to the U.S. Labor 
Board, where I was referred to the Pension and Welfare Administration and 
subsequently referred back to the County.   The CA Department of the 
Insurance Commissioner further claimed to have no jurisdiction over a 
self-insured employer.  In addition to the failings of the workers' 
compensation system, an employee of a county and/or self-insured employer has 
less of a chance of seeking redress, which is a finding few are aware of but 
should be aware of.   

I had additionally sustained orthopedic injuries to my left extremity and 
tailbone/low back while working a month earlier at my summer job as a 
lifeguard and swim instructor for California Lutheran University, where I was 
in the process of completing a master's degree in Education.   Both 
defendants have attempted to portray me as some kind of low life claimant.  
However, I was a dedicated teacher who also taught summer school and worked 
as a lifeguard/swim instructor during the summer and attended graduate 
school.   I earned exemplary performance reviews as a teacher and worked hard 
to maintain a 4.0 gpa while attending graduate school at night, on weekends, 
and during the summer.  I was additionally a former Olympic Trials qualifier 
and nationally ranked swimmer, a trained ski instructor, an outdoor and 
sports enthusiasts, and vocal performer among other talents.   I was 
struggling to continue working even after the orthopedic injuries followed by 
the toxic chemical exposure, the withholding of needed medical care, and the 
threats I received at work while teaching.  It was after the medical consult 
scheduled on behalf of the school district, which included the overdose and 
subsequent respiratory distress, that my valiant efforts succombed to three 
months of employer, insurance company, and workers' compensation system 

The Travelers Insurance Company is handling the workers' compensation claim 
for my orthopedic injuries and, upon requiring me to select a new treating 
physician in my present geographic area after being left homeless, 
subsequently and repeatedly denied authorization for me to treat with the new 
doctor.  They have not reimbursed over 6,000 miles in "medical mileage" 
dating back eleven months, nor have they provided any temporary disability 
benefits.   The Travelers has also repeatedly denied access for appropriate 
treatment and medical care including continuing physical therapy and a 
discogram to establish the location and extensiveness of disc tears.  They 
have consistently delayed or denied the provision of medical treatment and 
assistive devices for pain management required as a result of these work 

My life has been completely decimated by the employers I served with 
dedication along with their insurance carriers and the workers'
compensation system.


Connie S. Ray

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Created: August 31, 2000
Last Updated: August 31, 2000