Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Raymond
K. Berg, Judge, presiding.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied November 23, 1977.
The claimant, Sonya Greenberg, filed an application for adjustment of claim under the Workmen's Occupational Diseases Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 48, pars. 172.36 through 172.62) which alleged that she was the widow of Carl J. Greenberg and that while employed by the respondent, the Illinois Institute of Technology's Research Institute (hereafter IIT), he was exposed to an occupational disease hazard, atomic radiation, which resulted in his eventual disablement and death. An arbitrator for the Commission found that Greenberg was last exposed to the hazard on May 31, 1955, and that his death on June 24, 1970, resulted from this exposure. The arbitrator entered an award for the claimant under section 7(a) of the Workmen's Occupational Diseases Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 48, par. 172.42(a)), and the award was affirmed by the Commission. The respondent filed for a writ of certiorari in order to have the award reviewed by the circuit court of Cook County.
On March 7, 1975, the claimant filed a motion she styled "Misconception of Remedy" declaring that she was entitled to an award under the Workmen's Compensation Act rather than the Workmen's Occupational Diseases Act and asking the court to confirm the award under the provisions of the former act. (See Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 48, pars. 138.19(a)(1) and 172.54.) The court simply set aside the award and remanded the cause to the Commission "for further hearings and decision pursuant to the terms and conditions of the applicable provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act of Illinois."
On remand the Commission found that Carl J. Greenberg sustained an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of his employment with IIT when he was exposed to atomic radiation on May 31, 1955, that this exposure caused his death on June 24, 1970, and that the claimant was entitled to an award under section 7(a) of the Workmen's Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 48, par. 138.7(a)).
The deceased was hired by IIT in June of 1953 as an electrical engineer. In 1954 IIT contracted with a Federal agency to provide electrical communications equipment for use in the underwater detonation of an atomic bomb which was scheduled to take place in the spring of 1955. This project was designated "Operation Wigwam." Greenberg helped to design and develop this electrical equipment, and in the spring of 1955 he and other IIT employees traveled to San Diego to install the equipment on the U.S.S. Curtiss and the barge from which the atomic bomb would be detonated. The U.S.S. Curtiss and several other ships left San Diego in the early part of May 1955, and on May 14 the bomb was exploded underwater in the Pacific Ocean in an area 2,000 feet below sea level. The U.S.S. Curtiss left the detonation area on May 15 and returned to San Diego on May 17.
John McManus, who had worked with Greenberg in 1955, testified that he helped him install the equipment on the ship and the barge while they were docked in San Diego. He stated that he was not present when the bomb was detonated and that radiation-monitoring equipment had been installed on the ship but that none had been installed on the barge, so far as he knew, while he was aboard.
Rune Fors, who also had worked with Greenberg, testified that his responsibility was to attach a doppler cable containing electrical equipment to the cable which was used to lower the bomb into the ocean. He stated that he worked next to the bomb, that the deceased worked on other projects and that the deceased may have worked in proximity to the bomb. He said, too, that he did not recall seeing any radiation-monitoring devices, that there was a sprinkling system on the ship which was to be used if the ship encountered fallout after the blast and that his ship was approximately 5 to 6 miles from the detonation site. On cross-examination he stated that he never worked directly with Greenberg and that the deceased was not with him while he worked next to the bomb. He identified the ship that he and Greenberg worked on as the U.S.S. Curtiss and said they had been at sea approximately a week. He said there was never any need to use the sprinkler system, that he did not know if there were any radiation-monitoring devices on board the Curtiss, and that he never wore any sensitivity badges. James Bats testified he had worked on the project. He said he helped to attach the doppler cable and testified that he was not certain whether Greenberg had helped to attach the cable.
Dr. Steven Schwartz, who specializes in hematology (the study of the blood and blood-forming organs), testified for the claimant that he had examined Greenberg on February 7, 1966, and again on January 17, 1970. His diagnosis was lymphosarcoma, which he described as a "terminal disease." Asked the cause of this condition, he stated "I can't answer it [the question] because I don't know." It was his opinion that lymphosarcoma is an infectious disease, but he admitted that some physicians felt that the disease could be caused by radiation exposure.
Dr. Gerald Buckman, an internist, also was a witness for the claimant. He said he first saw Greenberg in January of 1966 and that he diagnosed his condition as either lymphosarcoma or chronic lymphocytic leukemia. He stated that lymphosarcoma is a disease that affects the lymph nodes, the lymphatic tissues of the spleen, the liver and bone marrow to such an extent that one becomes susceptible to infections. He said there were three different theories as to the cause of the disease: (1) radiation exposure, (2) viral infection, and (3) chromosomal abnormality. When asked by the claimant's attorney what in his opinion had caused the death of Greenberg he responded:
"And I must admit I don't know [what caused the lymphosarcoma]. I think there is a possibility that it might have been due to radiation but I have no first hand way of knowing what the cause of his primary disease process was."
Asked whether in his opinion there was a causal connection between Greenberg's work on the atomic bomb project and his death he said:
"I must say I really don't know. I don't know. First of all, I'm not an expert in this field. Secondly, I don't know whether there is any atomic radiation in the area. I would say there is a possibility ...