Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission administrator Jerome Larkin has filed misconduct charges against workers’ compensation arbitrator Jennifer Teague and attorneys who brought cases before her, Kerry O’Sullivan, Elizabeth Barringer and Caryn Nadenbush, claiming they communicated about cases without copying opposing counsel.
In the charges filed July 5, Larkin included emails painting a picture of casual contempt for justice and opponents.
Nadenbush allegedly wrote to Teague, “Then he upped his demand to $80k, but said he hadn’t talked to his client yet. WTF?”
Teague allegedly replied, “I think we should just finish the trial and you say, F him.”
Allegedly, Barringer called her opponent an idiot and Nadenbush called hers an ass.
Allegedly, Teague called Nadenbush’s opponent annoying and a bad lawyer, and she called Barringer’s opponent a dumb ass.
Teague allegedly interrupted her work once, to perform quick research for Nadenbush on a break from a hearing in another forum.
In a case where Teague sent email to both sides, she allegedly wrote, “I will tear into these people like they have never seen.”
Larkin also accused Teague of using her position to advance her own workers’ comp claim.
He also outlined her campaign to keep the Belleville News-Democrat from covering a hearing for former state trooper Matthew Mitchell, who caused a crash that killed two teenagers.
Mitchell sought compensation for injuries he suffered in the crash.
Last fall, according to the complaint, Teague wrote to O’Sullivan, “There is nothing I can do to keep them out of a public hearing, but will be more than willing to do a special setting and an unknown place and time!”
Teague wrote to a court reporter, “We are going to try and do it on the sly with no press.”
She consulted with O’Sullivan and assistant attorney general Bill Schneider, and she picked a date and place the persistent daily might miss.
“About ten minutes after the hearing opened, a reporter knocked on the door and entered the hearing room,” Denise Church wrote for Larkin.
“Respondent was upset and demanded to know how the reporter found out about the hearing,” Church wrote.
She wrote that Teague told O’Sullivan and Schneider to say, if asked, that the special setting was due to a scheduling conflict.
“Respondent knew that the reason for the special setting was not due to a scheduling conflict, but due to her efforts to conduct the hearing away from the media,” Church wrote.
Teague apparently advanced the interests of everyone except the public in that case, but in another case she allegedly advanced her own.
About a year ago, according to Church, Teague told assistant attorney general Teresa Omachi she would never hear a claim Jo Anderson filed against Big Muddy River prison.
Teague allegedly asked for help in getting paid early on a workers’ comp claim, and told Omachi she would set the Anderson case if her waiting period was reduced or waived.
Teague asked a lawyer about it in front of other lawyers at a docket call in Herrin and said, “Then Teresa could try the Anderson case,” according to Church.
“Respondent was attempting to advance her own case, by offering to provide hearing dates to Omachi in the Anderson case in exchange for a prompt payment in Respondent’s own workers’ compensation case,” she wrote.
Charges against the other three involve exchanges with Teague.
Barringer allegedly mocked a claimant without a lawyer as “my pro se from hell,” and Teague allegedly answered, “Crazy pro se is a no go for Thursday.”
Later that day, Teague allegedly added, “Stupid people kill me.”
Barringer replied, “Plus she’s insane.”
Teague allegedly commented on a lawyer’s sunburn, and Barringer allegedly replied, “I bet he looks like a lobster.”
When lawyer Fritz Levenhagen suggested to Barringer that she and Teague communicated improperly, Teague sent him a message finding his suggestion appalling.
Nadenbush allegedly forwarded an opponent’s email to Teague and wrote, “She’s kidding, right?”
Nadenbush allegedly forwarded an opponent’s email and wrote, “Make it STOP!”
In the Mitchell case, O’Sullivan allegedly attacked Schneider’s arguments in an email she sent to Teague but not Schneider.
O’Sullivan allegedly wrote, “The defense appears to be that he was acting so recklessly it takes it out of ‘arising out of.’”
She allegedly wrote, “But by that argument, any goofus who pulls a guard off of a machine and then gets his hand chopped off is out of WC too.”
Teague allegedly answered, “Perhaps the State should have thought of that before they threw 2 young attorneys to be chomped up by Tom Keefe in the Court of Claims hearing.”
A spokesperson for O’Sullivan provided a comment via email:
“Ms. O’Sullivan has voluntarily cooperated with the authorities at the ARDC during the course of its investigation, intends on maintaining that same level of cooperation during the hearing process, and looks forward to presenting evidence on her behalf at the appropriate juncture of the proceedings,” wrote Geri L. Dreiling of Legal Media Matters.
O’Sullivan is an attorney with Brown & Crouppen in St. Louis.
A message seeking comment has been left with Teague, who practices in Belleville.
Barringer and Nadenbush are employed by Hennessy & Roach in St. Louis, according to the ARDC website. A person who answered a call at Hennessy & Roach said neither Barringer nor Nadenbush were employed there.