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Little v. Celebrezze

December 14, 1962


Author: Duffy

Before DUFFY, KNOCH and SWYGERT, Circuit Judges.

DUFFY, Circuit Judge.

This is an appeal from the judgment of the District Court affirming a decision of the Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, which held that plaintiff failed to establish that he is entitled to a period of disability under Sec. 216 (i) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. § 416(i) or entitled to disability insurance benefits under Sec. 223 of the Act (42 U.S.C. § 423).

On May 24, 1956, plaintiff Little was employed as a machinist in a factory at Rockford, Illinois, and had been so employed for approximately four years. During that period he had missed only three and a half days from his work. His work record was excellent, and he often worked overtime. His education was limited, having finished grade school, but only one year of high school. Prior to May 24, 1956, he had considerable trouble with varicose veins. In the early 1940s, he had a vein ligation operation at the Mayo Clinic. The varicosities in his legs became worse after May 24, 1956.

On May 24, 1956, while holding a 94 pound steel rod, plaintiff accidentally stepped off a slightly raised platform, and fell to the floor still clinging to the steel rod to prevent it falling into a nearby machine. He immediately felt a sharp pain in his back which he reported to the management.

The pain continued for several days, becoming more intense. Plaintiff was given lighter work by his employer. In spite of the pain in his back, plaintiff continued work until December 21, 1956. During that interval of time, he was treated first by an osteopath, then by Dr. Lyddon, an orthopedic specialist, then by a general practitioner, and finally, on December 18, 1956, by Dr. Behr, another orthopedic specialist.

On December 21, 1956, plaintiff was admitted to the Rockford Memorial Hospital where, on the following day, Dr. Behr performed surgery on his back and removed a crushed intervertebral disc, more particularly described as a large herniated nucleus pulposus at the level of vertebrae L4 and L5. The immediate result was a lessening of pain, but gradually thereafter his symptoms recurred and the pain became more intense.

As a result of an intravenous injection during his stay in the hospital, a thrombophlebitis developed in his arm. He was hospitalized for this condition in March 1957, but the arm condition eventually cleared up. However, the symptoms of pain in his left hip, leg and foot persisted. Dr. Behr prescribed exercise. The plaintiff was referred to Dr. McKinney who recommended that the plaintiff remain inactive.

After plaintiff was dismissed from the hospital for the thrombophlebitis condition, he visited Dr. Behr about nine times in April 1957, and was given various types of therapy treatment but the pain in the leg and foot seemed to become more severe.

On April 25, 1957, plaintiff was readmitted to the hospital so that Dr. Behr might take a second myelogram. Later, Dr. Traina, under the supervision of Dr. Behr, gave plaintiff nerve blocks to relieve acute pains in the back. These were administered on May 22, 1957.

In May 1957, plaintiff was examined by Dr. Kernwein, a third orthopedic specialist. This was done at the request of an insurance company. Nerve blocks were administered. Plaintiff had trouble sleeping. He was able to sleep only a couple of hours at a time, and then had to get up and walk around to obtain some relief from pain. The sides of his leg and foot were numb and cramped.

Plaintiff wore a corset or brace more or less continuously from the time he first consulted Dr. Lyddon in the middle of July 1956.

Dr. Robert L. Anderson, a neurologist, examined plaintiff in August 1957. He found lumbosacral spasms with loss of normal lumbar curve, diminished sensation over the lateral aspects of the thigh and foot. He was also unable to feel arterial pulsations on either side of the leg due to the varicose veins.

Dr. Anderson concluded that plaintiff's back trouble probably was due to irritation of the sacral nerve root, which in turn was probably due to scarring and adhesions resulting from the surgery in December 1956. In May 1958, Dr. Anderson again examined plaintiff and found plaintiff's condition was a little worse as far as his varicosities were concerned, and as far as the movement in his toes was concerned. He also found the circumference of the left thigh had decreased half an inch. He reached the same conclusion as previously given, that the condition was caused by scarring and a possibility of arachnoiditis, which is an inflammatory condition around the roots and lower part of the spinal cord. He ...

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