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Recent Appellate Court Decisions
In Con-way Freight, Inc. v. IWCC, 1-15-2576 WC (1st Dist. 2016), and Flexible Staffing Services v. IWCC, 1-15-1300 WC (1st Dist. 2016), the Workers’ Compensation Commission Division of the Illinois Appellate Court defined the proper weight to be given an AMA impairment rating when awarding permanency. The Flexible Staffing decision is notable, in particular, because the Appellate Court, for the first time, discusses the weight to be given to age as one of the factors to be considered.
In Flexible Staffing Services v. IWCC, the Workers’ Compensation Commission Division of the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed a circuit court decision which had confirmed the IWCC’s award of benefits. The petitioner suffered an accepted work accident when he was welding a section of rail. When the rail slipped, the petitioner attempted to grab it. The rail weighed over 400 pounds. The petitioner felt pain in his right arm and was diagnosed with a distal biceps tendon rupture. The petitioner eventually underwent a surgical repair of his right elbow. After physical therapy he was discharged from treatment and released to full unrestricted employment. The treating physician noted the petitioner had decreased range of motion. On the last office visit, the petitioner complained of numbness and diminished strength. When the petitioner returned to full duty, the Respondent discharged him from employment.
At the request of the employer, the petitioner was examined by Dr. Mark Levin. Dr. Levin conducted an AMA impairment rating and determined the petitioner had an impairment of 6% of the right upper extremity or 4% man as a whole.
In Noonan v. IWCC, 1-15-2300 WC (1st Dist. 2016), the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Illinois Appellate Court affirmed the IWCC decision which had found the Petitioner failed to meet his burden of proving a compensable accident.
In Noonan, the Petitioner was a clerk for a trucking company. He answered the phone and filled out truck driver sheets. While filling out a truck sheet, the Petitioner accidentally dropped his pen on the floor. The Petitioner was sitting on a wheeled chair. The Petitioner placed his left hand on the desk and reached for the pen with his right hand. As the Petitioner’s right hand got close to the pen, the wheeled chair went out from under him and the Petitioner stuck out his right hand to brace his fall. The Petitioner eventually required surgery for an injury to his right wrist.
The Arbitrator held the Petitioner failed to prove his right wrist injury arose out of his employment. Benefits were denied. The Arbitrator determined the Petitioner failed to prove that sitting in a rolling chair and reaching for a pen exposed him to a risk of injury beyond what members of the general public are exposed to. The Arbitrator’s denial of benefits was affirmed by the IWCC.
The Petitioner appealed to the circuit court. Judge Robert Lopez Cepero of the Circuit Court of Cook County reversed the IWCC decision and remanded the matter back to the IWCC for an award of benefits.