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Longtime Mahoning County attorney reappointed to state bar association committee

Legal News Reporter

Published: October 25, 2012

He has devoted his efforts to helping employees win disability, workers’ compensation and other benefits, and more recently Mahoning County attorney Ronald Slipski has been spending his time trying to improve the laws that govern his practice as chair of the Ohio State Bar Association’s Workers’ Compensation Law Committee.

“Our committee is important because it reflects the views of attorneys who represent employees and employers, as well as attorneys general who represent the State of Ohio,” said Slipski, who first took the reins in July 2011, and was reappointed this year by Ohio Bar Association President Judge Patrick Fischer.

“He is a smart and hard working guy, and a past winner of the bar association’s Weir Award for Ethics and Professionalism, and that speaks for itself about his integrity and respect throughout the state,” said Fischer.

The Ohio State Bar Association has 40 standing committees, and 11 sections, and Fischer said the workers’ compensation committee is one of the most active, and Slipski is “one of the more active people on it.”

“During his first year he has commented on several proposed changes to workers’ compensation law,” said Fischer. “This year, I am hoping he will help expedite workers’ compensation activities, and improve its (the committee’s) efficiency when commenting on laws.”

A senior partner at Green Haines Sgambati, Slipski is a Mahoning County native, who left the area briefly to get his law degree, graduating from The University of Akron School of Law in 1979. Shortly after he started at his current firm. He initially handled age discrimination, ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act), and social security and disability cases, but since 1986 he has focused on workers’ compensation.

“I first became interested in labor law while I was taking a political philosophy class at Youngstown State University, where I earned my master’s in history,” said Slipski.

“I enjoy representing working people, and the workers’ compensation area allows me to be involved in administrative law and litigation. I find it to be a fascinating and frustrating area of law because it involves dealing with two large bureaucratic agencies (the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Ohio Industrial Commission), third party administrators, managed care organizations, health care providers, employers, and opposing counsel all at the same time,” Slipski said.

“When I am able to help someone who has been hurt at work, however, it is gratifying,” said Slipski who also serves on the Ohio State Bar Association Council of Delegates, and is a past president of the Mahoning County Bar Association and the Mahoning County Bar Foundation, and currently serves as bar counsel for the Mahoning County Bar Association Certified Grievance Committee.

Slipski said this year the bar association’s workers’ compensation committee has considered a number of legislative proposals.

“We have secured a seat on the Industrial Commission’s stakeholders committee,” Slipski said.

“The work of the committee is important because it benefits both workers and employers since it produces a safer workplace for employees, which makes it easier for employers to hire competent people and do business.

“Recently, the Ohio State Bar Association was instrumental in having a new Industrial Commission resolution, which affected the practice of Ohio lawyers, changed to be more accommodating to all Ohio lawyers.”

Slipski said his immediate goal is to pass legislation that allows injured workers to begin medical treatment immediately after an injury without having to wait for the legal process to reach a conclusion.

“The way things are now is that if a claim is contested, the worker cannot get care,” said Slipski.

“The injured worker’s private health insurance, if the worker has private health insurance, will not approve medical treatment because it is an alleged work injury,” said Slipski.

“The Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and Industrial Commission will not approve treatment because the claim is being contested, and the health care provider will not provide treatment because there is no guarantee of payment for services rendered.

“Thus, the injured worker is not receiving needed medical care, is not working, and is becoming very bitter about the whole process and with those contesting the claim. I would like to see a system where the issues are sorted out later, and the worker does not have to delay medical treatment. The longer medical care is delayed, the more serious the condition is likely to become. We have met with the administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to see if this unfortunate dilemma can be resolved by legislation agreeable to all the stakeholders.”