Sheriff Balaam, Washoe County, CCMSI, and Outside Counsel, Fight Against Treatment of Brave Detective’s Debilitating On-Duty Injury. Part Four.

Sheriff Balaam, Washoe County, CCMSI, and Outside Counsel, Fight Against Treatment of Brave Detective’s Debilitating On-Duty Injury. Part Four.

By Steve Pomper

Suppose you proposed a movie script based on severely injured Washoe County (NV) Sheriff’s Detective Kim Frankel’s three-and-a-half-year workers’ comp system’s cruel abuse. Would any production company even buy it? The hero is so valiant and the villains so cardboard cutout vile, I’m not sure anyone would believe it wasn’t fiction.

But, as they say in the movies, “This is a true story.” Welcome to Part 4 in this NPA series about the heinous abuse of a decorated veteran cop, wife, and mother by the people she was supposed to trust would ensure she got the care she needed if she were ever injured on duty. Well, a criminal injured her in the line of duty in 2020. Now, 2023 is nearly over, and those “trusted” people not only haven’t taken care of Kim but also, apparently, they’ve been actively opposing the medical treatment she’s needed so badly.

Nutshell version: Kim was struck by a DUI/Hit & Run driver while on duty. She suffered injuries, which grew into far more serious injuries, which have grown into life-long injuries, which were preventable. Preventable if she had received the neurologists’ recommended treatment without delay. Well, that didn’t happen because the county, the sheriff’s office, and the third-party administrator have consistently thwarted Kim from receiving the care she needs. Read NPA article #1 for the details.    

As I also mentioned in NPA article #3 that you’ll have to forgive me for the repetition. For one thing, we’re writing so many articles in this series, we hope each one has a solid enough core to stand alone. For another thing, reiteration helps the facts stick. After all, even Kim has told me she has trouble keeping up with the onslaught, and she’s the one going through it.

Below is a basic timeline gleaned from a more detailed one Kim has reserved for various official proceedings. Think about this timeline as if it’s a source for the proposed movie script imagined above, with the entries as ideas for scenes in the film.

Kim would play herself as the good guy metaphorically pinned down behind boulders by a gang of bad guys who have the high ground and who keep shooting at her every time she tries to fight her way out—tries to survive. Will she, with the help of her allies, defeat the villains? If anyone can, it’s Kim.

This timeline should give you a sense of just how long the county’s delaying and denying proper medical treatment to Kim has dragged out. Far beyond several official neurologists’ diagnoses of dystonia and other ailments. The numbers in parentheses after each entry represent the approximate number of days Kim waited between items worth documenting (#). 

* Warning: English major here; there may be math errors, but you get the point. Also note, any errors are my responsibility, not Kim’s.     

The Gauntlet

(Working title: borrowed from a 1977 Clint Eastwood movie)

June 25, 2020: On duty Washoe County Det. Kim Frankel hit by DUI driver on a Thursday. “sore head to toe…,” which “intensified” as days passed. Sent to ER. Diagnosis: lumbar strain. Placed on light duty, back to work the following Monday, with recommendation of PT (physical therapy) and to follow up with workers’ comp doctor.

June 29, 2020: Workers’ Comp Doc says symptoms getting worse (“blurred vision, auditory exclusion, extreme vertigo, nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, piercing ringing and buzzing in my ears, burning and itching of my skin…”). Still released for light duty status, Doc requests MRI, care transferred to neurosurgeon. (4 Days)

July 6, 2020: First symptoms of hand clawing (in left pinky). (7 Days)

July 19, 2020: Extreme vertigo, causing Kim to fall out of bed, vomiting. (13 Days)

July 28, 2020: Workers’ comp claim deemed “compensable” (entitled to compensation). (29 Days) (33 Days since injury)                                                            

July 30, 2020: Diagnosis: cervical whiplash, lumbar strain, ulnar neuropathy, vertigo, referrals for PT and to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat physician). (2 Days)

August 3, 2020: “Clawing” spreading to right hand and forearm. (4 Days)   

August 24, 2020: PT overdue (nearly a month) due to administrative delays. Physical therapist notes, dystonia, vertigo, post-concussion syndrome, symptoms worsening. Physical therapist recommends neurologist and makes referral to TBI (traumatic brain injury) specialist. (21 Days)

Sept. 16, 2020: Cannon Cochran Management Services Inc. (CCMSI) accepts claim for “industrial” (on duty) injuries, whiplash, cervical strain, and bilateral ulnar neuropathy. Note: other diagnoses and conditions will be addressed after ENT consult. (23 Days)

Oct. 8, 2020: ER Doc diagnoses vertigo, upper extremity weakness, post-concussion syndrome, and hearing loss. Referred to neurologist. (22 Days) (105 Days since injury)

Oct. 22, 2020: More administrative delays, so Kim doesn’t see an ENT until this date (over a month). (14 Days)

Dec. 2, 2020: First neurologist exam. Diagnosis vertigo, dystonia, concussion, and post-concussion syndrome. (41 Days)

Dec. 2., 2020: Nurse informs Washoe County (WC)/CCMSI that Doc told her that Kim’s on-duty injury is post-concussive, post traumatic concussion syndrome related directly to injury (on-duty collision). (N/A)

Dec. 30, 2020: Doc informs Kim EEG was abnormal indicating brain injury causing dystonia. (28 Days) (188 Days since injury)

Jan. 13, 2021: Nurse case manager (NCM) tells WC that Doc told them Kim’s trauma injuries from the crash can cause dystonia. (14 Days)

Jan. 27, 2021: CCMSI documents Doctor’s referral to UC Davis for dystonia “work up.” Note: CCMSI “fails to get me into UC Davis” (What are the details? How hard did they try?). (14 Days)

Feb. 8, 2021: CCMSI case manager records PT (physical therapy) notes that symptoms are preventing Kim from returning to duty because she can’t control onset of dystonia. Says Kim should be referred to a TBI specialist. (12 Days) (228 Days since injury)

Feb. 15, 2021: Doc says dystonia symptoms are worsening. UC Davis did not accept referral. Doc refers to UC San Francisco (UCSF). CCMSI case manager says Doc will not allow Kim to return to duty despite her trying to get him to do so. Doc notes that Kim has tremendous difficulty walking and experiences dystonia tremors in her upper arms. Despite Doc sending referrals to Stanford, UC Davis, and UCSF, the NCM notes only sending records to UC Davis (did she forget to record or not send them?). (7 Days)

March 5, 2021: Another IME (independent medical examination) done, diagnosis: functional dystonia on an industrial basis (on duty). Recommended treatment: CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) “I think the claimant is very motivated and in light of the intermittent nature of her symptoms, I expect her to recover.” Second CCMSI EEG from March 4, 2023 results: dystonia. (18 Days)

March 9, 2021: WC does not offer Kim light duty status. (4 Days)

March 27, 2021: WC/CCMSI ordered a psych. IME. Results: No psychiatric diagnosis. (18 Days

May 4, 2021: WC/CCMSI ordered vocational counselor evaluation completed. (38 Days)

May 5, 2021: WC Risk Analyst emails NCM and CCMSI case manager, “It is sad that this very complicated case is made worse by the doctors we have to rely on. We appreciate your input and agree with anything you and Mary can do to keep this going the right way.” (1 Day)

* My interpretation is these WC and CCMSI officials are disparaging the doctors who apparently won’t toe the diagnoses line. And the “right way,” seems to mean away from helping Kim get the benefits and medical treatments she needs and deserves.

May 21, 2021: Temporary Total Disability (TTD) terminated, they consider her condition not a result of workplace injury contrary to diagnoses from multiple neurologists.

* Re-read the entries to this point. How could any responsible person arrive at this conclusion? (16 Days) (330 Days since injury

June 2, 2021: Work status meeting with Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) staff (sheriff did not attend, despite personal invitation from David Frankel) held, as written about in NPA Article #1. WCSO informed Kim she has exhausted one year of light duty and must now use her accrued sick, vacation, and comp time if she wants to get paid (yes, pay herself). There is no contract or policy written about this situation. WCSO said, “it’s decided on a case-by-case basis.” Arbitrary? (12 Days)

July 5, 2021: As ordered by WCSO, they begin to “drain” Kim’s leave bank of her funds to pay her. (33 Days)

Aug. 16, 2021: WCSO staff instructed not to issue a personnel order (documentation of personnel assignments, promotions, and status) when WCSO reassigns Kim from her investigations slot to detention (the jail)—could also be interpreted as a demotion. (42 Days)

Nov. 30, 2021: Second work status meeting with WSCO staff (sheriff did not attend—again). Deputies’ union president told Kim not to attend due to her medical condition and WSCO’s previous poor treatment of her. Kim made herself available by phone if necessary. WSCO later accused Kim of “abandoning her position” by not attending this meeting. (75 Days)

Dec. 7, 2021: WCSO wants Kim to sign a “voluntary” resignation letter in return for allowing her to continue paying herself until Feb. 23, 2022 (50 years old), at which point she could prematurely draw benefits from PERS benefits. WCSO also told the president of the union, they would personally tell CCSMI to stop appealing decisions that have gone in Kim’s favor, if she complied with their coercion. WCSO told the union president he would wait a few days before firing Kim to allow her to consider the ramifications of not signing the “voluntary” resignation form. (8 Days) (530 Days since injury)

Dec. 29, 2021: Nevada Department of Administrative Court (NDAC) decision and order issued:

  • Feb. 25, 2020 claim denial of functional dystonia reversed.
  • May 20, 2020 claim denial of dystonia treatment reversed. (22 Days)

Jan. 3, 2022: WCSO ordered Kim to do a Fitness for Duty and to use sick time instead of vacation time. Violation of contract by WC and WCSO. (4 Days)

Jan. 4, 2022: Kim provides WCSO and WC with court order and request they cease drawing upon her leave bank, her timecard to be changed to workers’ comp leave, and for her leave bank to be reimbursed. (1 Day)

Jan. 18, 2022: Kim and family sell their home to pay for eventual treatments (on her own) at Oregon Health Science University (OHSU). On Sept. 28, 2022, after WCSO successfully terminated her, she and her family went to stay with family in Oregon to get away from WC’s harassment, bullying, and intimidation, including surveillance by a PI (private investigator). (14 Days)

Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, OR.

Feb. 8, 2022: WCSO email notification to Kim that they’ve fired her due to “abandoning” (not attending meeting, as advised by union president) her position effective Feb. 25, 2022. Kim said she’s never abandoned her position. (21 Days)

Feb. 8, 2022: CCSMI writes determination letter to comply with an appeal officer order that they accept functional dystonia as the diagnosis. (N/A)

Feb. 25, 2022: WC’s request for a stay denied. (17 Days)

Mar. 3, 2022: Kim informs WC they are in contempt of court orders and in violation of their labor contract. She repeats her request they restore her to workers’ comp leave and stop draining her leave bank to pay her. She also provided them with the applicable decisions, orders, and documentation that support her request/demands. (6 Days

Apr. 1, 2022: The union president informs Kim the WCSO and WC will place her on Admin leave without pay causing her to lose her retiree medical benefits forever. Also, successful “constructive termination” by WC and WCSO effective Apr. 8, 2022. (29 Days) (646 Days since injury)

Apr. 2-3, 2022: First “Dystonic Storm,” husband David found her unconscious in hallway. (1 Day)

Apr. 8, 2022: Forced to prematurely draw on her PERS retirement to keep her medical benefits and some income coming in. (6 Days)

Apr. 21, 2022: CCMSI requests copy of Kim’s resignation letter from WC. WC cannot provide it because it doesn’t exist. Kim did not resign. (13 Days)

May 24, 2022: WC receives TTD check for $12,417.36, due to complying with Hearing Officer’s order to pay benefits. WC does not inform Kim of this payment. She only finds out after a records release on September 8, 2022, over three months later. (33 Days)

June 16, 2022: District Court Determination and Order: Doctor’s report establishes Kim’s on duty collision caused the dystonia, which “satisfy the requirements for compensability under NRS 616C.150.” “No further testing or evaluation is necessary or required.” (22 Days) (722 Days since injury)

Washoe County Courthouse, Reno, NV.

June 24, 2022: CCMSI requires Kim to undergo a second IME. The doctor concludes she suffers from: “functional dystonia on an industrial basis….” The same diagnosis he concluded in March 2021. Doctor recommends she be treated at OHSU. (8 Days)

July 5, 2022: Judicial review denied, and CCMSI acknowledges the dystonia diagnosis as compensable. (11 Days)

July 8, 2022: Doc reiterates conclusion from June 24, 2022 entry. (3 Days)

Sept. 22, 2022: Kim discovers the WC has been taxing her non-taxable workers’ comp benefits for 2021. She works with county to get her W-2 corrected. Later, she learns WC had received another workers’ comp payment for her for $30,576.08 for TTD. (76 Days)

Sept. 27, 2022: WC sends Kim certified letter informing her that they have a check “ready and payable” to her after correcting her tax withholding status. (5 Days)

Note- from the certified letter WC mailed to Kim: “Washoe County has a check ready and payable to Kimberley Frankel for the correction of her timecard which results in a payout of her leave banks since her timecard was corrected from using vacation and/or sick time to workers’ compensation time.” Kim said, “These funds had been unlawfully garnished without a court order.”  

Oct. 2, 2022: Kim files complaint with Nevada Equal Rights Commission (NERC) because the many delays appear retaliatory and discriminatory, including “failure to accommodate her disability, ADA violations, and forced resignation.” (5 Days) (830 Days since injury)

Oct. 11, 2022: Kim goes to WC Comptroller’s Office to pick up check. WC refuses to release the check payable to her in violation of Nevada law. (9 Days)

Oct. 13, 2022: Deputies’ union submits formal grievance to WC Manager and Human Resources Director. (3 Days)

Dec. 17, 2022: WC sends Kim a check “with an unlawful garnishment… and no record of their accounting. (65 Days)

* Note: Two benefit penalty complaints filed on Sept. 16, 2022 and Oct. 24, 2022 for “failure to comply with the December 29, 2021 Decision and Order and Failure to Comply with the Hearing Officer’s May 06, 2022 Decision and Order.”

Dec. 21, 2022: State finds CCMSI violated law. Penalty assessed to be paid to Kim. CCMSI appeals fine. Kim also appeals fine due to errors that reduced the amount. (4 Days) (910 Days since injury)

Feb. 7, 2023: Deputies union’s attorney files criminal complaint with state AG on Kim’s behalf against WC for law violations. (48 Days)

Apr. 19, 2023: CCMSI closes Kim’s claim, suspends benefits (again) that she was not receiving. CCMSI accuses Kim of “willfully misrepresented facts in order to obtain benefits.” (71 Days) (1,029 Days since injury)

Aug. 16, 2023: Another Doc conducts another IME. Result: Functional Dystonia. Doc adds, “She may have been completely normal had appropriate care been instituted. It is imperative authorization is not withheld.” (119 Days)

Oct. 24, 2023: NDAC addresses CCMSI closing Kim’s claim and suspending benefits. Decision and Order: “The hearing officer notes that there is no evidence that the claimant concealed a material fact to obtain any benefit.” (69 Days) (1,216 Days since injury)

X Link

Oct. 27, 2023: Second “Dystonic Storm.” (3 Days)

Nov. 2, 2023: Third “Dystonic Storm.” (5 Days)

Nov. 13, 2023: Doc result of 3rd IME: “Functional Dystonia. I relate this to the industrial injury of 06/25/20. The dystonia is untreated and totally disabling at this time.” (11 Days)

Nov. 22, 2023: CCMSI reinstates benefits (on paper) to comply with hearing officer’s order. They add “Please note, while Washoe County believes misrepresentation in fact occurred, we will not be appealing this decision; however, should this type of conduct occur again, we will evaluate it fully for further action.” (9 Days)

* Author’s note: The hearing officer just ruled that what CCMSI accused Kim of doing, did not happen. Yet, they balk, insult the official’s finding, and pledge to take possible action if something happens “again” that never legally happened in the first place. Do I have that right?

Nov. 23, 2023: Yet another administrative hearing. No further info provided. (1 Day)

Dec. 1, 2023: Kim completes 3rd CBT treatment recommended by neurologists since 2021. (8 Days) (1,254 Days since injury)

* Timeline links added.

Though this timeline is not nearly complete, it should give you an idea of the technical side of the cruelty Kim has endured from people she trusted (who all cops trust) would be there for her. And make no mistake. Everything that has happened points to people in a system who have taken something that should have been routine and turned it into a malicious travesty.

Kim (her husband and children) deserves none of this. If you’d like to help her, let Nevada’s (especially Washoe County) political representatives know about this travesty, or contact the officials running these county and corporate entities who act as if they have a vicious personal vendetta against this dedicated public servant. Just don’t ask why. That answer remains frustratingly elusive, and any attempt to answer the why from the people involved would likely be littered with lies. After all, it seems, they’ve repeatedly shown an affinity for deceit. 

Still no comments on Kim’s case from any WC, WCSO, or CCSMI officials we’ve contacted.