Luis Cuadrado v. F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen, 11 WC 45776
The primary issue in the matter of Luis Cuadrado v. F.H. Paschen involved causation between an initial fall at a work site and bilateral knee injuries. The petitioner, a Union concrete finisher, sought a wage differential claiming after the incident he was physically restricted from returning to his job. Throughout the claim, extensive investigation was conducted into the petitioner’s whereabouts and activities including surveillance and securing bank records that confirmed the petitioner was running his own concrete finishing business.
At trial, the Arbitrator awarded a wage differential totaling over $900,000 over the course of petitioner’s lifetime.
The respondent appealed the matter to the Commission where the Arbitrator’s findings on causation of the knee and the wage differential award were overturned. The Commission found that the respondent’s IME doctor was more credible than the treating doctor in light of his greater knowledge of the petitioner’s physical capabilities and medical issues connected with the matter. The Commission also placed greater weight on the respondent’s evidence of the petitioner’s capability to work subsequent to the date of accident. The Commission’s decision reversed the causation finding altogether thereby removing the wage differential award for the knee and saving the client upwards of $900,000.00.
The petitioner appealed to the Circuit Court where the Order of the IWCC was affirmed. The matter is on appeal to the Illinois Appellate Court.
Alleged Accident Refuted by Surveillance Video
Petitioner alleged accidental injuries occurring on August 19, 2011. He sustained injury while pushing a cart loaded with 300 to 400 pounds of flour across the floor to a disposal area at the respondent company’s plant. He testified that one of the cart wheels became stuck on a piece of flour, causing him to strain himself by pushing the cart. Petitioner was diagnosed with a right inguinal hernia and underwent surgery shortly thereafter.
Petitioner’s testimony on cross-examination was noted by the Arbitrator to be non-responsive and inconsistent. Petitioner admitted that the cart was only half full at the time of the incident, that he failed to notify any of his co-workers or supervisors about said incident, and, in fact worked the entire shift with no complaints whatsoever. He insisted that the cart became stuck on dough and that he had to push so hard that another employee had to come over and assist him to dislodge the heavy cart from the dough, allowing him to continue to the garbage area. However, the respondent company authenticated and submitted into evidence the surveillance video of the dock compactor area where petitioner claimed the accident occurred at the exact time that he claimed it occurred. The surveillance video clearly showed the petitioner pushing a container to the compactor in a smooth fashion, with no interference from any object on the floor, pushing the compactor button, dumping the contents of the container, and then pushing the container back to its place of origin, out of view of the camera. The video did not show the container becoming stuck at any point, nor did it show a co-employee assisting the petitioner in pushing the cart as he alleged in his testimony. The respondent’s video did show a piece of dough laying on the floor, but as the petitioner pushes the cart, it was clearly evident that the middle of the cart passed directly over the substance and that it did not come close to touching any of the cart wheels.
Lori Cady v. Menard Correctional Center, 13 IWCC 981
Petitioner began employment with Menard Correctional Center as a nurse in November 2008. Petitioner began to notice symptoms in her right foot in May of 2011. Petitioner was diagnosed with a tear to her right Achilles tendon and also right Achilles tendonitis. She filed an Application for Adjustment of Claim with the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission alleging an accident date of September 1, 2011. Petitioner alleged that her condition of ill-being to her right foot was a result of repetitive walking.
The case proceeded to hearing on December 11, 2012, before the Arbitrator at the Herrin docket. Petitioner alleged that her right foot condition was from climbing stairs, walking, and standing “periodically all day long”. The Arbitrator found that Petitioner sustained a repetitive trauma injury to her right foot attributable to the requirement that she spend at least six hours a day on her feet, walking, standing, and climbing stairs, and on occasion she would have to work 16 hour days. The Arbitrator awarded 2 2/7 weeks of temporary total disability benefits, and ordered Respondent to authorize and pay for prospective treatment recommended by an orthopedic specialist.
Respondent appealed the 19(b) Arbitration Decision. The Commission reversed the 19(b) decision and denied compensation to Petitioner. In denying benefits, the Commission noted that “the Commission does not believe that the mere act of ‘repetitive standing’ or ‘repetitive walking’ constitutes an accident as contemplated under the Workers’ Compensation Act.”
Theory of Multiple Chemical Sensitivity Rejected by Arbitrator
The petitioner, a computer monitor for Bremen High School, alleged that on June 6, 1996 while in the school’s computer laboratory, she was sprayed with dust-off by one D. Jackson. She alleged that Mr. Jackson came up from behind her, placed the dust-off red straw in her ear and sprayed. Over the course of the next decade, the petitioner treated with numerous physicians and complained of itching in the right ear, burning in the eyes, itching in the face, head pain, headaches, sensation to flashing lights, facial numbness, dry mouth, lips and eyes, symptoms of arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, migraine headaches, difficulty with blurred vision, memory problems, confusion, and problems concentrating, and finally pain in the top of her head. In November of 2000 she solicited the services of Dr. Raymond Singer for an independent medical evaluation in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Dr. Singer opined her symptoms were those of neurotoxicity and diagnosed her with multiple chemical sensitivity. At the respondent’s request, petitioner saw Dr. Shirley Conibear for an independent medical examination in November of 2000 and then again in April of 2007. Dr. Conibear opined that her review of the treating medical records did not support the petitioner’s contention that the straw-like device was placed in her ear. She reviewed in detail the material safety data sheets for difluoroethane, the chemical petitioner was sprayed with, opining that fluorocarbons are not well absorbed in the intact skin and further are the least toxic of the group of hydrofluorocarbons. She opined that if the petitioner had been sprayed in the right ear, she would have had signs of frostbite in the E.R., including redness, swelling and blotchiness as well as thawed tissue, but none of those were seen on initial examination. She diagnosed the petitioner with hypertension, neuralgia and dry eyes of unknown etiology, indicating her neurology and hypertension had no bearing to the alleged work accident.
Petitioner also saw Dr. David Hartman, neuropsychologist, on October 10, 2005 at the request of the respondent. Dr. Hartman opined that petitioner had no evidence of brain injury, was malingering, and out for secondary gain. He disagreed entirely with Dr. Singer’s opinions that the petitioner had significant exposure to difluoroethane and opined there was no literature, either scientific or clinical, supporting the multiple varied symptoms complained of by petitioner. He further found that Singer’s diagnosis of multiple chemical sensitivity did not meet the standards of general acceptance and scientific adequacy in the medical community.
David Evelsizer v. Menard Correctional Center, 13 IWCC 461
Petitioner was a correctional lieutenant at Menard Correctional Center. He filed an Application for Adjustment of Claim alleging an injury to his left knee as a result of an injury on February 18, 2012. The case proceeded to a 19(b) hearing before an Arbitrator at the Collinsville docket on July 27, 2012.
Respondent disputed that Petitioner sustained an accident within the meaning of the Act. Petitioner testified that on February 18, 2012, he was walking up three flights of stairs to the catwalk to change out the catwalk officers. He testified that he was hurrying up the stairs, not running, and that he was fiddling with the 50 or 60 keys no his key ring in his hand to open. Petitioner testified that while he was walking up those stairs he was searching for the right key on his key ring to open the grille, and that when he got to the next to the last step at the third flight of stairs, right as he was making a 90 degree turn around the corner to the right, he had his weight on his left leg, and as he went up the step his left knee popped. Respondent offered into evidence seven separate documents which failed to confirm the Petitioner’s testimony that he was hurrying up the stairs, fidgeting with his keys, and making a 90 degree turn off the last step with all his weight on his left foot when he sustained his left knee injury.
The Arbitrator found that Petitioner sustained an accidental injury which arose out of and in the course of his employment with the Respondent and that Petitioner’s condition of ill-being to his left knee was causally related to the accident. Petitioner was awarded 1 3/7 weeks of temporary total disability benefits and $4,353.50 in medical expenses, In addition, Respondent was ordered to authorize and pay for left knee surgery recommended by the Petitioner’s treating physician.