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Freeman United Coal Mining Co. v. Ind. Com.

OPINION FILED JULY 18, 1980.

FREEMAN UNITED COAL MINING COMPANY, APPELLANT,

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (ALLEN HORN, APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Franklin County, the Hon. Loren P. Lewis, Judge, presiding.

MR. JUSTICE WARD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied September 26, 1980.

The claimant, Allen Horn, filed an application for adjustment of claim under the Workmen's Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.) with the Industrial Commission on April 6, 1973, for injuries suffered as the result of an accident on December 23, 1971, in the course of his employment with the respondent, Freeman United Coal Mining Company. While the proceedings before the arbitrator were not made a part of this appeal, it appears from representations made by counsel for the respondent that the accident consisted of a cave-in at a mine in which Horn was working, and that his injuries included multiple fractures of the pelvis and serious injuries to one leg. Following the accident Horn never returned to work with the respondent or elsewhere.

On April 29 the arbitrator rendered a decision finding that Horn was permanently and totally disabled, and awarded him a lifetime pension. Horn's award also included a sum for all medical and hospital services incurred up to that time. The record does not indicate that any administrative or judicial review was taken of the award, and its propriety is not an issue in this proceeding.

In 1978 Horn filed a petition under section 8(a) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 48, par. 138.8(a)) requesting that the respondent be ordered to pay unpaid bills aggregating some $5,500, covering various additional medical and hospital services rendered following the award, for conditions he alleged to be the product of the original injury. After a hearing the Commission issued an order that the payments be made, and its decision was confirmed by the circuit court for Franklin County. The respondent has appealed to this court under Rule 302(a)(2). 73 Ill.2d R. 302(a)(2).

In 1971, when the accident occurred, section 8(a) provided in pertinent part:

"The employer shall provide the necessary first aid medical and surgical services, and all necessary medical, surgical and hospital services thereafter, limited, however, to that which is reasonably required to cure or relieve from the effects of the accidental injury.

The employee may elect to secure his own physician, surgeon and hospital services at his own expense." (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1971, ch. 48, par. 138.8(a).)

Effective July 1, 1975, section 8(a) was amended to make the provisions quoted above read as follows:

"The employer shall provide and pay for all the necessary first aid, medical and surgical services, and all necessary medical, surgical and hospital services thereafter incurred, limited, however, to that which is reasonably required to cure or relieve from the effects of the accidental injury. * * *

The employee may at any time elect to secure his own physician, surgeon and hospital services at the employer's expense * * *." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1975, ch. 48, par. 138.8(a).

It was held in Health & Hospitals Governing Com. v. Industrial Com. (1978), 72 Ill.2d 263, that the 1975 amendment is not applicable to claims arising from an accident occurring prior to that date, and the parties concede that it therefore does not apply here.

Horn's evidence in support of his petition consisted of his own testimony and of five exhibits, four of which were the hospital bills which he sought to have paid by the respondent. The admission of each of these was objected to by the respondent on various grounds. The fifth exhibit was a report by a Dr. George E. Roulhac of an office examination of Horn made on March 17, 1978. This exhibit was admitted without objection. Counsel for the respondent conducted no cross-examination of Horn.

The respondent's case consisted of an evidence deposition by Dr. John G. Gregory, which was introduced by agreement, and the testimony of Harry A. Treadwell, who had been the respondent's manager of workmen's compensation since 1970 and was acquainted with Horn's case. Treadwell testified that under the respondent's claims procedure all bills for medical and hospital services had to be submitted to him for approval before being paid.

In 1977 Horn consulted Dr. Palagiri of Carbondale regarding a malfunction of his bladder. Dr. Palagiri treated Horn for this condition and succeeded in remedying it. According to Treadwell, Dr. Palagiri submitted a bill to the respondent which Treadwell approved for payment. The bill itself is not included in the record, and Treadwell did not testify as to the date when he received it. When asked whether he believed that the bladder condition was related to the particular injury for which Horn had ...


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