Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County, the Hon.
Robert E. Manning, Judge, presiding.
CHIEF JUSTICE RYAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Claimant, Andrew Campbell, was employed by Keystone Steel and Wire Company. On July 6, 1979, while working on a platform about six feet off the floor, an explosion occurred, spraying the claimant with molten steel on the hands, forearms, left thigh, and buttocks. Claimant either fell, or was knocked from the platform on which he was working as a result of the explosion. The claimant sought benefits under the Workmen's Compensation Act. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.
The arbitrator awarded claimant 51 5/7 weeks of temporary total disability under section 19(b) of the Act and stated that the disabling condition "is temporary and has not yet reached a permanent condition" (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 48, par. 138.19(b)), 51 5/7 weeks being described as having accrued intermittently from July 6, 1979, to September 4, 1980. On review, the Industrial Commission found petitioner's temporary disability extended only from July 6, 1979, to August 27, 1979, and not thereafter. The Commission found that the claimant failed to prove that the accident aggravated his pre-existing mental condition.
The circuit court of Peoria County found that the decision of the Industrial Commission was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court reversed the decision of the Industrial Commission and reinstated the award and decision of the arbitrator. The employer has appealed directly to this court pursuant to our Rule 302(a)(2) (87 Ill.2d R. 302(a)(2)). There is no dispute that the defendant suffered physical injuries as a result of the accident. The question in dispute is whether the accident aggravated a pre-existing mental condition, causing the claimant to be temporarily totally disabled after his physical disability had ended.
Following the accident, the claimant was hospitalized and treated for his physical injuries. He was treated by Dr. Robert Martin, the company's doctor. The claimant was released from the hospital on July 18, 1979. Dr. Martin continued to treat him for his physical injuries, and on August 22 issued a modified work release calling for no use of the right arm because of muscle tightness in claimant's neck. The claimant returned to work under this restriction on August 27 and was given a job of answering telephones in an office located near the platform where the accident had occurred.
On August 29, 1979, the claimant returned to Dr. Martin complaining of severe headaches and increased back pain. The doctor conducted a neurological examination which he found to be normal and ordered an EEG and a brain scan. On September 6 he discussed the results of these tests with Dr. McLean, a neurologist. The test revealed abnormal EEG findings. On September 7, because of these abnormal findings and the continued complaints about headaches, Dr. Martin told the claimant to go home and not to return to work.
On subsequent visits, the claimant exhibited and described bizarre behavior to Dr. Martin. Because of this behavior and the persistent headaches, Dr. Martin suggested a psychiatric examination. The claimant agreed to see Dr. Remolina, a psychiatrist whom he had previously seen. Dr. Martin stated that because of the claimant's refusal to discuss anything about his home life at the time he sent the claimant to Dr. Remolina, he thought that something in the claimant's home life might have triggered this episode. He later contacted Dr. Remolina and asked if the claimant had been willing to discuss his home life. Dr. Remolina stated that he had not. Dr. Martin asked Dr. Remolina if it was likely that his home life was a precipitating factor. The psychiatrist stated that it was very likely it could have been a home problem since that was the only thing the claimant was really hesitant to open up about. Dr. Martin, however, refused to state an opinion as to the cause of the mental disability, stating that he had not been trained in psychiatry.
About the same time, the claimant consulted Dr. Hugh McMenamin, a doctor of his own choosing, whose consultation report is dated September 28, 1979. In a letter to Attorney Paul Bradshaw dated October 31, 1979, concerning the claimant, Dr. McMenamin stated he had hospitalized the claimant and made arrangements for Dr. Mortimer Beck to evaluate him. Dr. Beck is a psychiatrist and first saw the claimant on October 30, 1979. His diagnosis was that the claimant was suffering from depressive neurosis. He saw the claimant in the hospital on October 30 and 31 and on November 1 and 2. Following the claimant's discharge from the hospital, Dr. Beck saw him approximately once a week through December 1979, and then about every two weeks up to the hearing before the arbitrator on September 3, 1980.
The employer had the claimant examined twice by Dr. Lalit Salva, a psychiatrist. His examinations were conducted on March 30, 1980, and on April 15, 1980.
The records of two prior hospitalizations for mental problems were introduced. The first one was dated December 15, 1969, and the second admission was on August 7, 1972. The notes concerning the April 1972 admission state that the patient has a history of psychiatric hospitalization of approximately two months in 1970 and the notes further state that he has been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons several times.
At the hearing before the arbitrator, the claimant introduced Dr. Beck's evidence deposition. The employer presented Dr. Salva as a witness and also presented the evidence deposition of Dr. Martin. In addition, the employer also called Dr. Beck to testify.
The dispute in this case primarily centers around whether there was or was not a conflict in the professional opinions of the two psychiatrists. The controlling question, of course, is whether the finding of the Industrial Commission that the accident had not aggravated a pre-existing mental condition is against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Dr. Salva, testifying for the employer, stated that in his opinion the accident did not cause any emotional impairment in addition to what existed prior to the accident. Although he stated that any injury causes some emotional problems, the permanent aspect of the claimant's emotional impairment was not caused by the accident. He also stated that he thought the claimant's fears were exaggerated.
On the other hand, Dr. Beck stated that the claimant had a basic paranoid personality that existed before the accident, but that the accident aggravated it and caused the depressive illness from which he was suffering at the time of the hearing. When Dr. Beck gave his evidence deposition, which was introduced into evidence by the claimant, he had not known that the claimant had been previously hospitalized at least twice for mental problems. However, when Dr. Beck testified before the arbitrator, after having been called by the employer, he was aware of the claimant's previous hospitalizations and he changed his diagnosis slightly from what he had testified to at the deposition. He also equivocated, to a ...