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Kurt has been practicing in northern Illinois for three decades, focusing on workers compensation claims, personal injury claims, maritime claims and labor issues. He has tried a large number of cases to verdict over his career, pursuing awards through any level of appeal necessary to protect the rights of his clients.
Kurt has handled an exceptionally wide range of cases for clients, including traumatic brain injury claims, repetitive trauma claims, heart attack claims, cancer claims, and a variety of occupational disease and occupational exposure claims. He has represented clients from all segments of the workforce, including teachers, stylists, clerks, tradespeople, professors, lawyers, nurses, doctors, airline pilots, baggage handlers, pharmacists, police officers, truck drivers, firefighters, longshoremen and seamen.
Kurt is one of a handful of attorneys who successfully linked brain cancer to an exposure of electromagnetic radiation. He was the first lawyer in the state to establish that maritime law applied to riverboat casino workers. He also won one of the largest penalty and fee awards against a misbehaving insurance company in a workers' compensation case.
Kurt has recovered many tens of millions of dollars for clients over his career. A sampling of cases include:
- a $2,399,000 recovery for an Ohio truck driver injured in Illinois. This case required litigation in both Ohio and Illinois
- $1,700,000 plus hundreds of thousands in medical expenses for a different truck driver who fell while exiting her cab
- $2,060,000 for an injured tradesman
- $1,063,000 for the family in the electromagnetic radiation case plus hundreds of thousands in medical expenses
- $ 1,000,000 in a combination of benefits for a Sheriff’s deputy
On rare occasions, Kurt has agreed to take over cases for clients who were not happy with their original lawyers. Examples of those cases include:
- $2,399,000 for the Ohio truck driver after a respected Chicago firm abandoned the client after they recovered a $100,000 insurance policy
- $500,000, lifetime medical and hundreds of thousands more in medical bills for a hernia injury, where three Chicago workers comp firms were pushing him to settle for $17,000
- Kurt signed on to the electromagnetic radiation case when multiple premier Chicago personal injury firms were not willing to risk their resources on the case
- $323,766 and lifetime medical rights for a worker whose prior lawyer was trying to settle the case for $5,000
These examples do not guarantee any result in any future cases.
On the labor front, Kurt and Kim Presbrey fought through federal, state and arbitration forums to delay the shutdown of a local manufacturing operation, extending work for hundreds of workers and costing the employer $20,000,000 in the process.
Kurt also actively protects the rights of victims through publications, professional memberships and practice in the appellate and supreme courts. He has authored numerous articles for lawyers on worker’s compensation and maritime topics, including book chapters on wrongful discharge claims and maritime injuries, and has lectured to lawyer groups at a variety of seminars. He is a member of the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA), The Appellate Lawyer's Association, the Kane County Bar Association, the Worker’s Compensation Lawyers Association and the federal trial bar.
Kurt's work at the Supreme Court has covered the most important workers comp cases over the last 20 years:
Sisbro v Industrial Commission, 207 Ill.2d 193 (2003)- Kurt and Michelle Porro participated in a successful ITLA group effort in this landmark case. This case eliminated arbitrary hurdles which blocked workers from their survival benefits and medical care.
Interstate Scaffolding v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, 236 Ill.2d 132 (2010)- This case established that employers could not fabricate excuses to cut off survival payments to the worker.
Corn Belt v. Lind- Kurt helped to defeat a coordinated effort by business groups to gut the workers’ compensation system.
West Bend Insurance Co v. Bernardino, 2020 IL 124690 - Kurt again authored the successful amicus brief for ITLA, blocking insurance companies from using the circuit court to freeze workers comp claims in their tracks.
McAllister v. Northpond, 2020 IL 124848 - In a second win at the Supreme Court in 2020, Kurt helped to defeat a legal doctrine which threatened to throw half of the workforce out of the workers compensation system.
McDonald v Symphony Bronzeville - This case will explore whether the State can strand victims without remedies when they are injured. The stakes could not be greater for workers and their families.