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BCM wins on accident: Mushroom packer's duties are not repetitive

Peter J. Stavropoulos succeeded in proving no accident in a decision by Arbitrator Andros. Guareiola v. Monterey Mushrooms, No. 05 WC 00263 (decision filed on March 29, 2006). Respondent presented evidence proving that the job duties of a portabella packer were extremely varied and did not require repetitive, forceful gripping. Consequently, Arbitrator Andros decided that there was no accident as related to petitioner's job duties.

With there being no accident, the Arbitrator found there could no causal connection. Supporting this finding was the testimony of Dr. Weiss, who testified that petitioner's job duties did not cause or aggravate her bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome as work activities must involve exposure to forceful or vigorous vibration or involve highly forceful repetitive gripping activities in order to cause or contribute to carpal tunnel syndrome. Dr. Weiss opined that petitioner's carpal tunnel syndrome was caused solely by her being a middle aged woman who smoked.

Petitioner relied on Dr. Eilers, who performed an independent medical evaluation at petitioner's direction. Dr. Eilers was unfamiliar with the job duties of a portabella packer.

Petitioner's ability to perform heavy work after accident date basis for Arbitrator's finding of no causation

Julia McCarthy tried this case before Arbitrator Akemann in Geneva on petitioner's 19(b)/8(a) petition. Thomas Horist v. Western Industrial Contractors, No. 05 WC 16438.  Petitioner claimed injury on February 7, 2005, to his low back and was seeking ongoing TTD as well as authorization for further medical care, specifically fusion surgery. The arbitrator found petitioner sustained an injury to his low back on February 7, 2005, which was reported to the respondent on that date. Petitioner initially declined medical treatment. Petitioner continued working as a millwright on the job site until completion of the job on February 17, 2005. Testimony was given on behalf of the respondent by the supervisor who worked with petitioner on a daily basis on the job site. It was agreed petitioner worked up to 10 hours a day on some days following the injury. Further, it was agreed that his work constituted heavy work. On the final day on the job site, February 17, 2005, petitioner commented to the supervisor “what about my back”. Petitioner was advised to contact the HR representative in the home office. Petitioner did contact the HR representative and she advised him to follow-up with her regarding any treatment he sought on his back. She had no further contact from petitioner.

Medical records from petitioner's treating physician reflected he was seen February 21, 2005, and reported history of injury. He was diagnosed with a back strain. He was seen for follow-up on March 5, 2005, and March 16, 2005. He underwent an MRI on April 1, 2005, and an epidural injection was recommended.

Vocational rehabilitation: failure to cooperate dispute found in favor of the respondent

Hayden v. Industrial Commission, et al.
214 Ill.App.3d 749, 574 N.E.2d 99 (1991)

John P. Connolly of Brady, Connolly & Masuda, P.C. successfully defended the respondent in Hayden whereby the petitioner, a 41 year old structural iron worker, sustained injury to his low back and left arm. Petitioner participated in a work hardening program and was released to return to work, however, was unable to work at unprotected heights. Petitioner's examining physician maintained that petitioner should not engage in repetitive bending, weight lifting or prolonged walking, standing, sitting or standing.

Petitioner was referred to a vocational rehabilitation counselor for job development and placement services. Interviews were scheduled by the vocational counselor, however, petitioner admitted that he was not interested in a clerical position or working indoors. Petitioner testified that he was considering returning to school on a full time basis in order to obtain his degree. The vocational counselor recommended that further rehabilitation efforts be withheld until petitioner made a commitment to pursue employment for which he was qualified.

Respondent terminated petitioner's temporary total disability benefits as a result of the employee's failure to cooperate with placement efforts. At trial, the Arbitrator determined that petitioner had unreasonably substituted his judgment for that of the physician in advising the union personnel that he would be returning to structural iron work within 3 - 6 months.

Arbitrator finds no accident as fractures pre-dated the accident date

Julia McCarthy tried James Norton v. Peoria Midwest, No. 04 WC 28720 and 05 WC 33293, before Arbitrator Neal in Peoria. Ms. McCarthy was successful in securing a no accident decision with denial of all benefits and right to recover TTD and medical benefits previously paid.

Petitioner initially alleged injury on December 27, 1999 involving his left foot and subsequently filed an amended application claiming injury of November 30, 2000. Petitioner was diagnosed with multiple fractures of the foot and Charcot foot, eventually resulting in surgery. Petitioner claimed TTD from December 8, 2000 through February 27, 2001 and October 12, 2001 through May 29, 2004. Further, petitioner claimed medical for approximately $117,000.00.

It was our position petitioner did not sustain a work-related injury and his foot condition was the result of activities of daily living affecting a Charcot foot. Petitioner is a diabetic.

The medical reflected petitioner initially sought treatment in December of 1999. There was no history of a work injury. He complained of his feet being sore after being on his feet all day. He did reference chopping wood, which was done at home. Petitioner was seen in follow-up January of 2000, at which time his complaints regarding his feet decreased.

Successful prosecution of fraudulent workers' compensation claim

Roadside Auto Body, Inc. v. Scott Miller
285 Ill.App.3d 105, 220 Ill.Dec 724

John P. Connolly of Brady, Connolly & Masuda, P.C. successfully prosecutes workers' compensation fraud case.


The petitioner reported an unwitnessed accident to his employer 25 days after the alleged incident. A Form 45 was completed and a report was made to the insurance company. The insurer secured a recorded statement from employee and confirmed the accident as reported to the employer. The claim was accepted as compensable and temporary total disability and medical benefits were paid.

  • Rumors that while petitioner receiving temporary total disability benefits, that alleged low back problem occurred as a result of military accident;
  • Investigation into military history confirmed prior back surgery recommendations;
  • No prior Industrial Commission claims;
  • Insurer accepted claim as an aggravation of a pre-existing condition;
  • Petitioner secured an attorney;
  • Petitioner underwent lumbar laminectomy and fusion;
  • Petitioner returned to work six months after lumbar laminectomy;
  • Petitioner wants to settle workers' compensation action;
  • Offer of 30% loss of use of man ($50,000.00) as a whole is accepted;
  • Petitioner advised co-worker/best friend of $50,000.00 settlement;
  • Co-worker went to employer and suggested that petitioner had filed a fraudulent claim;
  • Employer notified insurer;
  • By the time the insurer secured a recorded statement from co-worker, the Lump Sum Settlement Contract was approved by the Illinois Industrial Commission;
  • Co-worker advised insurer that claimant hurt back in the military, had a longstanding back problem and intended to defraud employer;
  • Additional investigation confirmed unwillingness to undergo surgery while in the military;
  • Insurer refuses payment of Lump Sum Settlement Contract; and
  • Petitioner's attorney successfully secured Order from the Industrial Commission for penalties and attorney's fees in the amount of $28,000.00 for non-payment of Lump Sum Settlement Contract.

  • 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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