State News : Texas

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On January 21, the Texas Department of Insurance announced three staff changes within the DWC.

Kara Mace will serve as Deputy Commissioner of Legal Services.  The newly-created Legal Services program will handle rule development, open records, litigation, contracts, subpoenas, and other legal issues for the agency. Kara formerly served as deputy counsel for TDI’s Office of Public Insurance Counsel, and spent several years with TDI's Policy Development Counsel.  She has also served as both senior counsel for External Litigation and senior counsel for Enforcement for the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

Nicholas “Nick” Canaday, formerly general counsel for the DWC since March 2016, will now act as “Special Counsel,” focusing on litigation impacting the workers’ compensation system.  According to the DWC, he will also serve as a liaison to the Office of the Attorney General and provide counsel to executive management and staff on legal issues.  It’s unclear how Mace and Canaday will divide their legal duties within the department, but some have suggested Mace will manage the department, with Canaday focusing on litigation.

The DWC also added a new prosecutor with the Fraud Unit: Jessica “Jess” Bergeman.  Ms. Bergeman is a former prosecutor in Chicago, and joins Donna Crosby in the comp fraud division within the District Attorney’s Office.  Bergeman was most recently director of the Client-Attorney Assistance Program in the Attorney Compliance Division at the State Bar of Texas. 

Under 2017 legislation, the DA’s office is eligible for funding for up to four comp fraud prosecutors, but has not had more than one prior to the addition of Bergeman.  We are hopeful this means the DA will undertake more workers’ comp fraud cases.

-  Copyright 2020,Erin Shanley, Stone Loughlin & Swanson, LLP