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Workers’ Compensation Commissioner Changes, and Bills Affecting the Workers’ Compensation Act

I. - Workers’ Compensation Commission Governor Appointments Chairman:  Commissioner Michael Brennan replaces outgoing Chairman Joann Frattiani Commissioner Public Member: Arbitrator Barbara Flores replaces outgoing Commissioner Michael Brennan Commissioner Labor Member: Attorney Marc Parker replaces outgoing Commissioner Charles Devriendt Commissioner Public Member: Attorney Maria Portela replaces outgoing Commissioner Joshua Luskin Commissioner Labor Member: Arbitrator Doug McCarthy replaces outgoing Commissioner David Gore Commissioner Business Member: Commissioner Kevin Lamborn’s appointment expired. No replacement has been appointed yet. II. - Workers’ Compensation Commission Act Many bills have been filed with the House and the Senate and are pending disposition at this time. Two of these...

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Meet Gina Panepinto

Power & Cronin is pleased to announce that Gina Panepinto has joined our team of talented attorneys.  Gina has over 20 years of diverse legal experience with the primary focus on workers’ compensation and personal injury.   She has extensive experience at all levels of workers' compensation litigation and conflict resolution from both a Petitioner’s and defense perspective.  In addition to workers’ compensation practice, she handles employment / Human Resources related issues such as policy, discipline and compliance.  She has also handled third party litigation claims in Cook County, participating in mandatory arbitration and jury trials. Gina is a Naperville native and...

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Salmon v. City of Pekin

Congratulations to the IML/CCMSI and John Fassola for their successful defense of a claim before Arbitrator Douglas McCarthy in Salmon v. City of Pekin.  The claimant was a police officer who felt a pop in his hip while leaning into a squad car to retrieve equipment.  Although the incident was promptly reported, claimant subsequently provided inconsistent histories to his medical providers.  We were able to obtain a solid expert opinion that claimant had pre-existing hip pathology, and that his condition was related to a pre-existing labral tear as opposed to any acute pathology.  We were also able to obtain significant...

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Rapp v. Ford Motor Company

Congratulations to Ford Motor Company and Kirk Kuhns for obtaining a favorable decision from Arbitrator Soto in Rapp v. Ford Motor Company.  The case was a repetitive trauma/accident claim by an assembling worker alleging a shoulder injury that was denied and fully disputed.  Petitioner alleged her injury was due to a tool gun over torqueing, being heavier than usual, kicking back toward her or the cumulative nature of utilizing the tool gun during her employment.  Respondent provided witnesses to directly dispute and contradict Petitioner’s testimony.  Respondent’s Section 12 examining doctor provided an opinion that Petitioner’s shoulder condition was not causally...

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Rill v. Rolling Meadows

Congratulations to IRMA and John Fassola for their successful defense of a claim on behalf before Arbitrator Molly Mason in Rill v. Rolling Meadows.  The claimant was a firefighter/paramedic who fell while walking down stairs at the firehouse and suffered a fractured ankle.  We successfully argued that claimant’s injury was not related to any “increased risk” associated with his employment.  He was not responding to a call at the time he fell, and was not carrying any equipment.  We also disputed claimant’s contention that the stairs were slippery due to being recently stripped and re-waxed.  We introduced photographs showing non-defective...

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Ohlrich v. City of Palatine

Congratulations to the City of Palatine and John Fassola for their successful defense of a “rebuttable presumption” cardiac claim in the case of Ohlrich v. City of Palatine. The claimant was a firefighter/paramedic who was diagnosed with coronary artery disease and underwent a quadruple bypass, precluding his ability to return to work as a firefighter. Under the law, the claimant’s condition was presumed to be related to his employment as a firefighter, and we were required to disprove the contention with credible evidence. In addition, claimant had been granted a duty disability pension, which claimant’s counsel argued was further evidence...

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Benefits Denied for Fall From Chair

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...

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Appellate Court Decisions on Permanency Factors – Evaluating Age as a Factor

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...

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