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M. Williams vs. Excel Inn of Rockford

Case tried before Arbitrator Peter Akemann in Rockford on May 19, 2010. 

Decision entered:  June 9, 2010

The Arbitrator finds that on May 30, 2006, the petitioner sustained an accident that arose out of and in the course of her employment, but that the petitioner's current condition of ill-being is not causally related to the accident.

The Arbitrator denies the petitioner's request for medical bills, denies the petitioner's request for 180 weeks of TTD benefits, denies the petitioner's request for an odd lot permanent total award and finds that the petitioner's request for disability under nature and extent is also denied and, therefore, awards zero on all issues.

The Facts:  The petitioner was hired as a night auditor for the Excel Inn of  Rockford approximately three months before the robbery in question on May 30, 2006.  On that date, two masked assailants entered the front door of the Excel Inn with guns drawn and demanding money.  Petitioner testified at trial that during the robbery one of the assailants escorted her to the bathroom where he sexually fondled and molested her.  A surveillance video of the robbery shows the petitioner in the bathroom with the assailant for approximately 35 seconds and when she exits the bathroom she is fully clothed with both hands duct taped behind her. She then kicked on the door of her manager, Carol Raupp, who then called 911.

The Cherry Valley Police Report, submitted into evidence, documents the petitioner's statement to police that she was escorted to the bathroom during the robbery, thought she was going to be raped but instead the suspect turned her around and duct taped her hands behind her back. Approximately 35 seconds later, the suspect left the bathroom and shut the door.  At no time did she mention a sexual assault occurring to the original attending officers.

Her history of the incident changed however as time went on, severely damaging her credibility at trial.  She told a company investigator that one of the suspects pushed her to the bathroom, grabbed her pants from behind and stuck his fingers inside her pants and that the same assailant ripped opened her shirt and grabbed her breast.  Another company investigation report highlights the recorded statement of Detective Gary Hull, a 23 year old veteran of the Cherry Valley Police Department.  Detective Hull commented that the responding officers made no mention whatsoever of the sexual assault or rape occurring on the original report and when Detective Hull reviewed the surveillance video it was his opinion that the petitioner was not physically assaulted in any manner whatsoever.  Several days after the incident Detective Hull was called to Rockford Memorial Hospital where the petitioner was found to be falsely reporting a rape to the attendants.  However, Detective Hull confronted the petitioner with the fact that she had not been raped.

The petitioner's credibility was also damaged by her false history to two co-workers that she had been sexually fondled and by her history to Dr. Wayne Stillings, the petitioner's IME psychiatrist that one of the robbers sexually assaulted her. 

In finding that the petitioner's condition of ill-being was not causally related to the accident, the Arbitrator found credible the opinions of Dr. Alexander Obolsky, the respondent's IME psychiatrist who reviewed all of the petitioner's extensive prior medical records documenting psychiatric treatment and complaints of headaches and anxiety, the surveillance video of the robbery as well as all investigation reports, over that of Dr. Stillings who reviewed none of these items in forming his opinion that the petitioner was permanently and totally disabled.  Dr. Obolsky found that she had multiple traumatic events preceding and subsequent to the May 30, 2006 robbery, that she was treating for stress two months prior to the incident and that she had a pre-existing history of depressive illness and anxiety disorder since at least 2004 with psychiatric referrals as far back as 1999.  He opined that the petitioner had developed no psychiatric disability due to the Excel Inn robbery and had a longstanding history of mental disorder with anxiety and depression prior to the incident.  He also found her lack of straight forward reporting and multiple inconsistencies showed that she was volitionally misattributing pre-existing symptoms to the robbery for secondary financial gain.  He found her to be malingering with no evidence of mental impairment and fit for full duty work. 

Due to the petitioner's extensive false claims of  being sexually fondled, molested and/or raped, to several individuals, in the months and years following the May 30, 2006 robbery, the Arbitrator concluded that the petitioner had not presented herself as a credible witness and awarded her zero benefits.

  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • IRTB
  • DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • IRTB
  • DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-425-3131
211 Landmark Drive, Suite C2
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-862-4914
One Metropolitan Square
211 North Broadway, Suite 2200
St. Louis, MO 63102
Phone: 314-300-0527
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