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Ceco Corp. v. Industrial Com.

OPINION FILED MARCH 25, 1983.

CECO CORPORATION, APPELLANT,

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (ALEJANDRO GARCIA, APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County, the Hon. Thomas W. Vinson, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE MORAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Claimant, Alejandro Garcia, sought workmen's compensation for an injury which he sustained while in the employ of respondent, Ceco Corporation. An arbitrator awarded claimant compensation for permanent partial disability to the extent of 20% of the man as a whole. Both parties appealed, and the Commission found claimant to be permanently and totally disabled. The circuit court of Will County confirmed the decision of the Commission, and respondent brings a direct appeal to this court (73 Ill.2d R. 302(a)).

The sole issue is whether the Commission's finding of total and permanent disability is contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence.

On November 4, 1977, claimant was employed by respondent as a welder. On that date, claimant fell on a steel bar, injuring his lower back.

The following evidence was produced at the hearing before the arbitrator. Claimant testified, through an interpreter, that he was in good physical condition prior to the accident, but that immediately thereafter he "hurt all over." On November 10, 1977, he consulted his family physician, Dr. Spurgeon Green. Dr. Green admitted claimant to Silver Cross Hospital, where he received therapy and pain shots. He was discharged on December 16 and given a corset to wear. Claimant stated that, at the time of his discharge, he continued to "hurt all over" and his right side was numb.

Subsequently, he received outpatient treatment at the hospital, and was readmitted in January of 1978. A myelogram was administered, after which claimant underwent a laminectomy. He was discharged in February but continued physical therapy and consulted his doctor every month.

On September 25, 1978, claimant returned to work at Ceco, but his employment was terminated four days later. He stated that his job required him to bend and use a hammer. He experienced numbness and soreness on his right side, and continues to do so. He further stated that he was susceptible to fainting spells.

On cross-examination, claimant indicated that he was hospitalized for two weeks in September of 1977, following an automobile accident. He also stated that, after he was terminated, his union filed a grievance but he was not rehired. On re-direct examination, claimant testified that he had been employed by Ceco for five years prior to the accident. He also indicated that he did not receive a back injury in the car accident.

Dr. Robert Busch, a physician specializing in traumatic surgery, testified on behalf of the claimant. He stated that claimant suffered from a spasm which "radiated into both sides and down the posterior aspect of both thighs with sciatic radiation of spasm bilaterally." His legs manifested a stiffness, weakness and resistance to motion. There was also an operative scar in the midlumbosacral area which "was thickened, hypersensitive, roughened, indurated and raised." In his opinion, claimant suffered from a permanent herniated disc condition and would be in need of further treatment, including possible surgery. Dr. Busch concluded that claimant would be unable to perform heavy work involving bending, turning, lifting, or twisting. He stated that he may be able to do light work on a part-time basis.

On cross-examination, the witness testified that claimant could work as a welder if the job involved no bending, lifting, turning or twisting. However, he stated that he would be unable to work an eight-hour day at any job.

Respondent introduced into evidence two reports prepared by Dr. James Dupre, a neurosurgeon. The reports essentially indicated that claimant was recovering "well" following surgery, and that his operative scar was "well healed." Other than a defect in the L-4/L-5 portion of the back, he noted no significant abnormalities.

Respondent also introduced into evidence a report indicating that claimant was denied unemployment compensation because he was discharged from Ceco on the grounds of misconduct. Other evidence revealed that the reason given for his discharge was poor work performance.

Both parties introduced additional evidence at the hearing before the Commission. Dr. Archibald McCoy, a neurological surgeon, testified on behalf of the respondent. He stated that, in January of 1978, he performed a laminectomy upon claimant, which involved the removal of a herniated invertebral disc in the lumbar region at L-4/L-5. On September 21, 1978, Dr. McCoy wrote ...


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