Bankruptcy of Briggs & Stratton; Wisconsin DWD, DOJ announce agreement

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development and the Wisconsin Department of Justice on Wednesday announced a $200,000 settlement as part of DWD’s federal court-filed lawsuit in the Virginia bankruptcy laws case of Briggs & Stratton Corp.

The funds, along with a $5 million bond, are available to pay the former self-insured employer’s workers’ compensation claims.

Additionally, a Self-Insured Employers Liability Fund (SIELF) is available to cover any shortfall and protect payments to injured employees if these funds and bond are exhausted.

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The SIELF is financed by contributions from other self-insured employers when needed. All workers’ compensation claims are paid directly or indirectly by employers; no taxpayer funds are used to support this safety net for injured employees.

“In 1911, Wisconsin became the first state in the nation to have a constitutionally valid workers’ compensation law,” DWD Secretary-designate Amy Pechacek said in a press release. “Whether an employer is commercially insured, self-insured, or illegally uninsured, our robust injured worker protection system here in Wisconsin provides safety nets to ensure injured employees continue to receive their accident benefits from the work, even if their primary payer defaults.”

The state’s self-insurance program, which includes employers covered by the state workers’ compensation law who take responsibility for their workers’ compensation risk and payments – rather than s insuring through a licensed insurance company will benefit significantly from the Briggs & Stratton agreement.

In the event of Briggs & Stratton’s bankruptcy, the $5 million bond and settlement proceeds will be used to pay unsatisfied claims by former Briggs & Stratton workers. Without these sources, payments would come from SIELF, for which other self-insured employers would be assessed.

“Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation system provides essential security for Wisconsin residents injured on the job,” Wisconsin Attorney General Kaul said. “This result will help protect the Self-Insured Employers Liability Fund and, in turn, save money for Wisconsin’s self-insured employers.”

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Briggs & Stratton Bankruptcy Case

In July 2020, Briggs & Stratton Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection – citing challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of the Chapter 11 filing, the company said at the time that it had secured debtor-in-possession financing of $677.5 million from a private equity firm buying its assets and existing lenders to allow it to continue operating prior to closing. of the agreement.

“Over the past few months, we have explored several options with our advisors to strengthen our financial position and flexibility,” chief executive Todd Teske said in a statement. “The challenges we have faced during the COVID-19 pandemic have made reorganization the difficult but necessary and appropriate path to securing our business.”

The filing, Briggs & Stratton said at the time, allows the company to fully support its operations until the transaction closes.

Wisconsin Workers Compensation Law

Under Wisconsin workers’ compensation law, employees and employers receive a benefit in exchange for a stable system. Employers get tort protection against workers’ compensation lawsuits and employees get no-fault workplace coverage with a defined schedule of benefits if an injury results in loss of work time. Wisconsin’s workers’ compensation program has served as a national model of innovation and stability for more than a century, the DWD said.

The requirements of Wisconsin Law 369 of 2017 do not apply because this proposed resolution is part of a bankruptcy proceeding and is not a “compromise or waiver of a civil action.”

Information about the Wisconsin workers’ compensation program, including information for self-insured employers, can be found on the DWD Workers’ Compensation Resources for Employers page.

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