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Significant Wins

Another Win for Power & Cronin

Congratulations to John Fassola and the University of Illinois for their win in a case with a very unusual fact pattern.  The claimant was a student lab worker at the University and alleged that he contracted HIV as a result of exposure to infected blood samples.  At trial, we were able to successfully argue multiple avenues denying the compensability of the case.  First, we noted the fact that the claimant had not immediately reported the exposure, which made the credibility of his allegation questionable.  We also used medical evidence to suggest that the timeframe between the alleged exposure and the development of symptoms was too short.  Finally, we used an expert opinion to argue that the alleged mechanism of exposure was unlikely to result in the development of the disease.  Arbitrator Wesley agreed with the defense, and denied benefits.  The Commission recently upheld the denial of benefits in a unanimous decision.

A Win for Power & Cronin

Congratulations to Ed Miniat, LLC and Jeff Redick for their victorious hearing before IWCC Arbitrator Joseph Amarilio of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission. The case involved a Petitioner that alleged to have sustained workplace injuries as a result multiple accidents including a fall and repetitive traumas. The Petitioner claimed over $132,000.00 in accrued benefits at hearing.  As a result of inconsistencies in Petitioner’s testimony elicited on cross-examination and impeachment against medical record evidence, the Arbitrator determined that the Petitioner’s conditions were not causally related to the alleged injuries and all claims for benefits were denied.  No appeal was filed.

Jaskowiak v. Homer Township Fire

Congratulations to the Illinois Municipal League and Gina Terrano Panepinto for their successful defense on Appeal of this matter brought pursuant to Section 19(b)1 before Arbitrator Paul Cellini.  Following briefing on Review and expedited Oral Arguments, Panel A of the Workers’ Compensation Commission affirmed the Arbitrator’s decision in Jaskowiak v. Homer Township Fire Protection District. The claimant was a fire fighter/paramedic who claimed injury to his foot and back after being disqualified from a 40-hour live fire training course due to heat exhaustion and dehydration.  We questioned the credibility of the claimant regarding the timing of the disqualification from the live fire exercises followed by a later claim of injury.  The claimant required emergency medical treatment for dehydration and heat exhaustion during the training exercises but did not report injury or pain to his foot or back to the medical professionals.  We proved that an alleged accident was not reported until after he was disqualified from continuing the exercises and called witnesses in support of this defense. The Arbitrator found that the claimant failed to prove that there was an accident, citing issues with credibility and significant pre-existing medical conditions.  On appeal, the Commission agreed with the Arbitrator on all issues finding the claimant failed to prove accident and causal connection.  Therefore, the Commission denied all benefits, including a request for prospective medical treatment, including foot surgery.

Sea v. City of Pekin

Congratulations to the Illinois Municipal League and John Fassola for their successful defense of a claim before Arbitrator Bradley Gillespie in Sea v. City of Pekin. The claimant was a bus driver who slipped and fell on two occasions. He alleged the development of medial epicondylitis and carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of the falls. We questioned the causation between the fall and the alleged conditions and obtained a supportive IME opinion. At trial, we focused on the delay in seeking treatment for the alleged conditions, and the inconsistency in Petitioner’s complaints. On cross-examination, Petitioner admitted that he had seen an orthopedist for an unrelated condition shortly after the accidents but did not reference the alleged injury to his wrist and elbow. The Arbitrator agreed that claimant failed to prove that his condition of ill-being was related to his workplace injuries, and therefore, denied all benefits, including the request for prospective medical treatment for elbow surgery.

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.