2002 summary of cases regarding Illinois workers compensation law.
|Section 19(f) Recall Proper to Amend Penalties when
Miscalculated under McMahan
|Bunnow v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 24 January 2002, 1-00-3895WC
On review the Industrial Commission issued an award including penalties.
The following day the Illinois Supreme Court issued the McMahon
decision allowing penalties for vexatious non-payment of medical
expenses. Before the Commission issued its decision, claimant filed
a petition for reconsideration under McMahon. The Commission's decision
awarded penalties but not for the non-payment of medical expenses.
Claimant then filed an amended motion to reconsider and a petition
under section 19(f) moving for the correction of a clerical error.
The appellate court ruled that a motion to reconsider is not a procedure
allowed by the Act. However, section 19(f) filings are allowed,
even at the Commission level. Since McMahon required penalties to
be calculated as (TTD benefits + medical expenses) * 0.5, the motion
under section 19(f) was proper. The appellate court remanded the
case with instructions to recalculate the penalties with the medical
expenses included in the calculation.
|Workers' Compensation Lien Attached to Wrongful Death
Settlement thus Eliminating an Award Under the Act
|Padgett v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 24 January 2002, 1-01-0149WC
Claimant was a child of the deceased injured worker and was a beneficiary
in a civil case against a hospital which allegedly caused the death
of the injured worker while receiving treatment for work related
injuries. The arbitrator found that the civil settlement was subject
to the employer's workers' compensation lien under section 5(b)
and amounted to more than claimant's potential recovery under the
Act. Respondent was entitled to a credit against the amount of its
liability to claimant up to the full amount of the civil settlement.
Thus, claimant was precluded from recovery under the Illinois Workers'
Compensation Act. The appellate court affirmed.
|Fall on Ice in Parking Lot Compensable when it Occurred
During Tasks of Employment
|Homerding v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 21 February 2002, 1011175WC
Claimant slipped and fell in the rear of an icy parking lot of
a strip mall while making a second trip to her car to retrieve tools
of her trade as a beauty operator. The employer did not own or maintain
the parking lot. The arbitrator found the case compensable, awarded
benefits and penalties. The Industrial Commission reversed the arbitrator
and found the case not compensable. The appellate court reversed
the Industrial Commission and held the case compensable. It focused
on the fact that at the time of the accident claimant had already
begun her workday and was injured while performing a task that advanced
employer's interests. The trip to the car also allowed her to carry
out her usual employment duties.
|Vocational Rehabilitation Benefits May Not be Awarded
Under Section 19(b-1)
|Mobile Oil Corporation v. Industrial Comm'n
|3rd Dist., March 2002, 3-00-0931WC
Claimant filed a 19(b-1) petition for TTD and medical benefits.
He also sought vocational rehabilitation benefits. The Arbitrator
awarded, TTD, medical expenses and awarded vocational rehabilitation
expenses and maintenance even though he had been released to return
to work. The Industrial Commission affirmed. The appellate court
held that vocational rehabilitation benefits and maintenance may
not be awarded as relief in a hearing conducted pursuant to section
19(b-1) of the Act.
|Aggravation of Degenerative Condition Not Compensable
Inc. v. Industrial Comm'n
|4th Dist., 8 February 2002, 4-01-0007 WC
Claimant sought benefits for a degenerative condition in his right
foot. He twisted his right ankle in a pothole while delivering dairy
products for Sisbro. The Industrial Commission found the case compensable
and awarded benefits. The appellate court reversed the Commission.
It held that claimant was not entitled to compensation, regardless
of whether his condition of ill-being was caused by a work-related
aggravation of a preexisting condition, if his physical condition
was so deteriorated that his condition of ill-being could have been
produced by normal daily activity. The court acknowledged that claimant's
condition (Charcot arthropathy) was caused by the work injury but
denied compensation because any activity could have caused the condition
given his preexisting diabetic neuropathy.
|Aggravation of Pre-existing Hypertension Compensable
under "Mental-Physical" Analysis
|City of Springfield v. Industrial Comm'n
|7th Dist, 25 February 2002, 4-00-0563WC
Claimant was assigned to duties as a detective investigating criminal
activities by juvenile offenders, interviewing suspects and victims
of crime, and making arrests, including drug arrests at crack houses.
He investigated gang activity and his life had been threatened many
times. He was diagnosed with hypertension in the early 1990. His
treating physician opined that the claimant's hypertension had been
exacerbated by his stressful job duties and that his hypertension
was uncontrollable in his workplace. He further opined that the
claimant was disabled from his job and that continued work in law
enforcement would be detrimental to the claimant's health. The arbitrator
denied benefits and the Industrial Commission reversed. The appellate
court affirmed the Industrial Commission. It rejected respondent's
argument that the case had to be analyzed under either a "mental-mental"
theory or the "physical-mental" theory. The court held
that claimant was not seeking compensation for psychological injuries
so a "mental-physical" analysis was appropriate. Claimant
must prove only that some act of employment was a causative factor,
not the sole, or even the principal causative factor. The case was
compensable since it was uncontroverted that the claimant's job-related
stress aggravated his pre-existing hypertension (a physical condition)
to the point where the claimant could no longer engage in police
work without endangering his health.
|Widows Claim Denied when Decedent Corporate Officer
Elected to Exclude Self from Coverage
|D. Mayer Landscaping v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 7 March 2002, 1011004WC
Claimant was the widow of a corporate officer of killed while working
in his own landscaping business. Decedent previously elected to
exclude himself from coverage under the Act. The court rejected
the widow's claim that decedent was acting in a dual capacity when
he was killed. It also rejected the widow's claim that her right
to sue under the Act was independent and therefore not dependent
on the decedents' election to exclude himself under the policy of
insurance. Thus, benefits were denied.
|Penalties Proper on Non-Payment of PPD Award when
only Medical Bills Disputed on Review
|Zitka v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 14 March 2002, 1-01-0955WC
The arbitrator awarded 73 3/7 weeks TTD and 45% man as a whole
plus all medical bills submitted by claimant. Respondent filed a
timely petition for review of the case but challenged only the medical
award. The Industrial Commission revised the medical award and remanded
the case to the arbitrator for further testimony on the issue. Shortly
prior to the Commission's decision was issued, claimant filed a
petition for penalties under sections 19(k) and 19(l). Respondent
paid the PPD and TTD award shortly after receiving the Commission's
decision. At the hearing on the petition for penalties, the Commission
awarded penalties against the respondent for failing to pay the
PPD and TTD awards in a timely fashion. The penalties amounted to
$32,791 under 19(k) and $6,558 under 19(l). The appellate court
affirmed finding that respondent had waived any challenge to the
PPD and TTD awards, thus the awards were payable immediately. Failure
to pay these awards supported penalties even though the medical
benefit aspect of the case was on review.
|Pertillo Doctrine Applies to Workers' Compensation
Cases and Precludes Exparte Communications with Claimants Health Care
|Hydraulics v. Industrial Comm'n
|2nd Dist., 4 April 2002
Counsel for respondent sent a videotape and a job description to
claimant's treating physician and asked whether the evidence changed
his mind as to causation. The doctor clarified his opinion by stating
that no causal connection existed between the injury and the work
activities. The arbitrator excluded the testimony as a violation
of the Petrillo Doctrine which precludes ex-parte communications
with health care providers as a violation of the physician patient
privilege. The Industrial Commission affirmed as did the appellate
court. It held that Petrillo applies to worker's compensation cases.
The court noted that workers' compensation practice, while not subject
to discovery procedures as provided under the Code of Civil Procedure,
nonetheless has analogous avenues for securing information from
treating physicians. It state that every competent, non-ex-parte
method of acquiring medical information referenced in Petrillo as
a basis for barring ex-parte contact, including subpoenas, release
of relevant records, interrogatories, oral depositions, and live
testimony, can be found in an analogous form within the Workers'
|McMahan v. Industrial Comm'n Applies Retroactively
|American Airlines v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 14 February 2002, 1001545WC
The appellate court held that McMahan v. Industrial Comm'n 183
Ill. 2d 499 (1998) allowing penalties for non-payment of medical
expenses applies retroactively.
|Mental Stress Causally Related to Gastrointestinal
|Baggett v. Industrial Comm'n
|Supreme Court, 15 March 2002, Docket No. 90385
The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the Industrial Commission,
holding that it applied the wrong legal standard to a "mental-physical"
claim. Claimant, a high school industrial arts teacher for the Marion
school district (District), collapsed at work from gastrointestinal
tract bleeding which led to a myocardial infarction, cardiac arrest,
and resulting anoxic brain damage, rendering him permanently and
totally disabled. Claimant alleged that the mental stress from his
job was a causative factor in the development of the peptic ulcer
that led to his disability. The arbitrator awarded benefits but
the Industrial Commission held that petitioner failed to prove that
he had an accident under the Act because there was no evidence that
he was subject to more stress than hi co-workers and that there
was no unusual job stress at the time of his collapse. The appellate
court affirmed the Industrial Commission. The Supreme Court reviewed
the case de novo, finding that the Industrial Commission and appellate
court applied improper legal standards. It held that claimant need
only prove that some act or phase of the employment was a causative
factor of the resulting injury. Moreover, claimant need only prove
that the usual job stress is greater than those facing the general
public. He is not required to prove that the job stress is greater
than that of coworkers or that unusual levels of stress existed
at the time of injury. The court found that claimant's job as a
school teacher subjected him to stress greater than the general
public and that the work stress was a causative factor in the aggravation
of his ulcer which led to his disablement. The arbitrator's award
of permanent total disability was reinstated.
|Decision of Improperly Constituted Commission Panel
is Null and Voids
|Daniels v. Industrial Comm'n
|Supreme Court, 23 May 2002, Docket No. 90318
The Commission's appointment of two arbitrators to fill vacancies
on panel "B" was beyond the statutory authority of the
Commission because it was up to the Governor to appointment replacements.
Thus, the decision of the commission was null and void. The case
was remanded to the Commission for another hearing.
|Failure to Award Wage Differential not Against Manifest
Weight of Evidence
|Pietrzak v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 18 April 2002. 1-01-2006WC
The appellate court affirmed the Commission's permanency award
rather than a wage differential when evidence of a labor market
survey supported the existence of jobs within claimant's restrictions
at or near his prior wage level. The fact that claimant selected
a job earning substantially less the his pre-injury earnings was
not sufficient to require a wage differential award.
|Commission Lacked Subject Matter Jurisdiction where
City of Chicago Passed Ordinance Precluding Recovery by Police Officers
and Firefighters under the Act
|Jones v. Industrial Commission
|3rd Dist., 15 May 2002
Claimant police officers and firefighters were precluded from seeking
benefits under the Act because the City of Chicago passed an ordinance
providing for medical care and precluding recovery under the Illinois
Workers' Compensation Act. The fact that the City stipulated to
jurisdiction during trial had no impact on the Commission's subject
matter jurisdiction because it cannot be waived, stipulated to or
consented to by the parties. Further, subject matter jurisdiction
may be raised at any time and may be raised sua sponte if necessary.
|Retroactive Pay Raise Included in Average Weekly Wage
|City of Chicago v. Industrial Comm'n
|1st Dist., 23 May 2002 1-01-2959WC
The arbitrator awarded permanent total benefits based on an AWW
of $670.82, excluding a retroactive pay raise because the raise
was not in effect at the time of the injury. The Commission reversed
the arbitrator and included the pay raise, increasing the AWW to
$698.83. The appellate court affirmed the Commission, finding that
section 10 of the Act required inclusion of the retroactive pay
raise because it was remuneration for work he completed during the
relevant 52-week period prior to the injury.
|Credit Allowed for prior Settlement in Iowa under
|Keil v. Industrial Comm'n
|3rd Dist., 12 June 2002, 3-01-0166WC
Claimant received an award of 50% of a leg but the arbitrator refused
to give credit for a prior settlement in Iowa for 17.5% or the same
leg. The Commission applied the credit in whole. The appellate court
held that the statue does not restrict such credits to Illinois
claims and affirmed the Commission's application of the credit.
The manner in which the credit is to be determined is a factual
matter for the Commission.