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Significant Wins

Brooks v. Kankakee School District #111

 

Congratulations to IPRF and Jeff Redick for successfully defending a denial of benefits by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission before the Circuit Court of Kankakee County in the matter of Brooks v. Kankakee School District #111.  The case involved a Cafeteria Supervisor that alleged to have sustained injuries to her wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee and hip from a fall in a snowy parking lot when leaving work.  The Respondent successfully argued that the fall did not arise out of and in the course of her employment with the Respondent. The Court agreed that the claimant’s fall in a parking lot neither owned nor maintained by the employer did not constitute a compensable accident.

Hedman v. City of Elmhurst

Congratulations to Dan Artman and the City of Elmhurst for their successful defense of a rebuttable presumption cardiac claim.  This case involved a firefighter diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Due to the risk of sudden death should Petitioner be exposed to excessive physical stress, it was recommended by his treating physician that he no longer work as a firefighter. Petitioner claimed that his condition was caused by his work as a firefighter and argued that the rebuttable presumption applied to his claim. The City obtained an opinion from Dr. Richard Carroll that Petitioner’s condition is not causally related to his work for the City. In addition, the City relied upon opinions from Drs. McDonough and Samo, experts who testified in claimant’s pension case, who agreed with Dr. Carroll on the issue of causation. In addition, the City argued that Petitioner did not suffer an actual accident because he did not suffer any injury resulting from his condition while working. Arbitrator Friedman ruled that the City rebutted the presumption and that Petitioner’s condition was not causally related to his work for the City. All benefits were denied in a case with six-figure exposure.

McElroy v. Village of Hinsdale

Congratulations to the IRMA and John Fassola for their successful defense of a claim before Arbitrator Christine Ory in McElroy v. Village of Hinsdale. The claimant was a police officer who dislocated his shoulder while on duty. The claim was disputed based on a contention that the activity the claimant was performing on the date of the occurrence (reaching up to press a garage door opener) did not represent an increased risk incidental to the employment. The defense also noted that the claimant had a prior history of recurrent shoulder dislocations, one as recently as three months prior due to a skiing accident. The Arbitrator agreed that claimant failed to prove that his injuries arose out of his employment, and therefore, denied all benefits, including the cost of surgery, temporary total disability benefits, and permanency.

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 concessions from claimant’s treating physician on cross-examination, including the fact that his causal connection opinion was based on an incomplete or inaccurate history.  The Arbitrator agreed that the opinion of the defense expert was more credible and persuasive than that of the treating physician.  Therefore, the Arbitrator found that, while claimant may have sustained an “accident”, he failed to prove that his condition of ill-being or need for surgery was causally related to the incident.  No medical bills were awarded aside from three office visits shortly after the date of the incident, and prospective medical treatment, including surgery, was denied.

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 related to her employment.  The Arbitrator found that Petitioner failed to prove an accident or that her shoulder condition was related to her employment.

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 stairs with appropriate skid-protection strips, as well as documentation proving that Petitioner had worked prior shifts without noticing anything unusual about the stairs.  The Arbitrator agreed that the claimant failed to demonstrate an increased risk and found that Petitioner failed to prove a compensable work-related accident.

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 in support of his claim. However, we were able to present an expert opinion from a cardiologist supporting the contention that claimant’s condition was related to personal health factors (including chronic hypertension, high cholesterol, and a family history of heart disease) rather than the risks of firefighting. The Arbitrator agreed and denied any benefits to the claimant. Mr. Fassola is one of the only attorneys in Illinois who has successfully defended firefighter rebuttable presumption claims in multiple venues across the State.