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Chicago Tribune Co. v. Industrial Com.

OPINION FILED AUGUST 28, 1985.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE COMPANY, APPELLANT,

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (FRANKIE JENKINS, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Arthur Dunne, Judge, presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE WEBBER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Claimant, Frankie Jenkins, filed her application for adjustment of claim against her employer, respondent Chicago Tribune Company. The claim arose out of a slip and fall on respondent's premises. The arbitrator awarded permanent partial disability to the extent of 8%, temporary total disability, and medical expenses. Both parties appealed to the Industrial Commission. In a split decision the Commission affirmed the permanent partial disability but reduced it to 5%, and reversed the award of temporary total disability and medical expenses. Respondent appealed to the circuit court of Cook County. That court affirmed the permanent partial disability of 5%, but reversed the Commission and reinstated the arbitrator's award of temporary total disability and medical expenses.

Respondent has appealed, claiming that the injury did not arise out of and in the course of employment; or in the alternative, that the circuit court's reinstatement of temporary total disability and medical expenses was erroneous. The permanent partial disability award has not been appealed. We affirm the circuit court's order, thus affirming in part and reversing in part the order of the Commission.

Claimant was employed by respondent as a data control clerk and worked on the eighth floor of what was called the Nathan Hale Building, a part of the Tribune complex of buildings on North Michigan Avenue in Chicago. On the morning of February 5, 1979, the date of the accident, claimant entered the premises on her way to work through the lobby of the tower building, passed through a doorway into what was called the "Nathan Hale Gallery." Shortly after entering this gallery she slipped and fell at the bottom of a ramp.

Only three witnesses appeared at the arbitration hearing: the claimant and two security guards who worked for respondent at the time of the accident. Claimant testified that after she entered the gallery her left foot went straight out in front of her and she fell backwards, in the process striking her head on a ledge which ran along the wall of the gallery. She fell flat on the floor and was unconscious for a short period of time. The floor was of linoleum, and claimant did not recall whether it was wet or dry. She stated she did not know what caused her to fall, but she did not faint nor trip over her feet.

The gallery was used by Tribune employees and the public. A coffee shop and other stores open to the public were located in the gallery.

After she fell claimant stated that she felt pain and numbness throughout her body. She remained in the floor until a nurse from the medical department of respondent arrived with a wheelchair and transported her to the medical department, where she received some treatment and returned to work. About 4 p.m. she received permission to leave because of pain and stiffness in her lower back, shoulders, and neck.

Claimant testified that two days after the accident, February 7, 1979, she consulted with Dr. Aquino and continued to see him once a week for three weeks following the initial consultation. He took X rays and prescribed muscle relaxants and bed rest. She also testified that she was examined by Drs. Busch and Hirshfield on April 24, 1979, and December 16, 1980.

Claimant returned to work on February 26, but remained only two hours. She asked permission to go home; a doctor in respondent's medical department refused, but she left anyway.

Thereafter, beginning on March 9, 1979, she consulted with Dr. Thomas, a chiropractor. She continued seeing him three times per week for 15-minute therapy sessions, which consisted of heat and massage. This continued until November 14, 1979, for which Thomas presented a bill of $2,195.

Claimant returned to work for respondent on April 16, 1979, and continued to work until June 4, 1979, when she was dismissed for tardiness. At the time of the arbitration hearing in May 1981 she claimed she was still experiencing pain and stiffness in her legs and hips and lower back. She used muscle relaxants, aspirin, and rest, all of which eased the pain.

Two security officers employed by respondent on the day of the accident also testified. Michael Abston stated that he observed claimant fall and went to her assistance, that the floor was level and clear of debris, and that there was no ice, snow, nor water on the floor. He also stated that he could not recall the weather conditions on that morning, but when it was snowy and wet outside, people would track the snow and water in and onto the floor. He recalled that the claimant was wearing shoes with narrow heels about 2 or 3 inches high.

Charles Stastny, another security officer, also testified that he recalled claimant's high heels.

At the arbitration hearing both parties introduced medical reports which were in conflict; the same condition existed at the review hearing before the Commission. The conflict rested in the extent of claimant's ...


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