Mt. Vernon sues Jefferson County sheriff candidate for $7,000 - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Mt. Vernon sues Jefferson County sheriff candidate for $7,000

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MT. VERNON -- A candidate for sheriff of Jefferson County has been locked in a five-year legal battle with the City of Mt. Vernon over claims he misrepresented a knee injury to obtain thousands of dollars in workers compensation benefits.

The city filed suit against Jefferson County Chief Deputy Clint Taylor, requesting a small claims court order him to reimburse $7,043.26 for workers compensation benefits he received while employed as a Mt. Vernon police officer in 2012.

According to court documents obtained by News 3, Taylor, who announced his candidacy for sheriff last month, claimed he injured his right knee while subduing a suspect on October 16, 2012. The injury forced him to miss work for the better part of two months, and he continued to get paid for those days.

Soon after, the city determined Taylor did not injure his knee on the job as claimed.

After receiving a letter from the city's human resources director, explaining their decision, Taylor responded with a letter of his own.

"As I am sure you're aware, being [a] police officer is not a stationary job. We arrest people often and occasionally those people are combative," Taylor wrote. "I have not appreciated being treated as the criminal in this case."

After hearing from medical expert witnesses on both sides, an arbitrator ruled in favor of Taylor. 

But in November of 2014, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission ruled in favor of the city. 

In its ruling the commission said Taylor waited one month before mentioning the injury to his knee and found it odd that a second report he filed contained a diagnosis before he sought medical treatment. 

The commission also said it found it interesting that when Taylor sought treatment three days later, "he does not mention the altercation but instead talks about wresting with a co-worker and being on his knees while fixing a toilet."

Despite this, the Jefferson County circuit court later ruled in Taylor's favor, reversing the workers compensation commission's ruling.

However, Taylor's victory did not last long.

In September 2016, a state appellate court reversed the circuit court's ruling, reinstating the workers compensation commission's decision.

A year later, the City of Mt. Vernon filed a lawsuit against Taylor in small claims court, saying despite the appellate court ruling he still has not paid the $7,043.26 owed.

The city said Taylor "will be unjustly enriched if not required to reimburse the City for the amounts paid because of his misrepresentation."

In a statement to News 3 on Wednesday, Taylor said he's standing up for what's right.

"With lawyer tricks they won twice in review court and I won twice both times we were able to tell my story face to face with a judge," Taylor said. "Each time we explained things to a judge, they sided with me. I'm standing up for what is right and letting a judge make the decision if I owe them back pay. "

He continued, "If a judge determines I owe them money I will pay, but I don't feel I do."

Taylor's attorney, Troy J. Parrish, filed a motion asking the small claims court to dismiss the suit.

"I've known Clint Taylor for a long time, over 20 years and anybody who's known Clint Taylor knows he's a man of integrity and honesty," said Parrish. "He's morally and factually right in this case that he was injured in the line of duty and he's standing up for himself, and by doing that he's standing up for other officers who may be injured in the line of duty and have a department or a municipality that doesn't support them."

Mt. Vernon city manager Mary Ellen Betchel said the city was following the law as required in pursuing the reimbursement and said there was no personal animosity toward Taylor.

Betchel could not immediately say how much money the city has spent on legal fees pursuing the case.

No word on when the small claim court will hear the case.
 

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