Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Pecyna v. Industrial Com.

OPINION FILED OCTOBER 29, 1986.

CASIMER PECYNA, APPELLANT,

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (INTERCRAFT INDUSTRIES CORPORATION, APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Thomas Hoffman, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE BARRY DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The petitioner, Casimer Pecyna, claimed benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.), for injury sustained while he was employed by the respondent, Intercraft Industries Corporation (the company). The arbitrator awarded the petitioner 80 weeks of compensation for his 16% bodily impairment. The Commission found that the petitioner's injuries rendered him wholly and permanently incapable of work and increased the award to compensation for life. The circuit court of Cook County confirmed the decision of the Commission. The Illinois Supreme Court reversed the judgment and remanded the cause to the Commission for further proceedings. On remand the Commission modified the award of attorney fees and affirmed the balance of the decision of the arbitrator. The circuit court of Cook County confirmed the decision of the Commission. The petitioner brings the instant appeal.

The evidence at the arbitration hearing established the following. On February 16, 1978, while employed by the company as a local semitruck driver, the petitioner hooked up a trailer, kicked the block off its rear wheels, slipped on the company's icy dock, and landed on his buttocks. The petitioner continued to work but used a heating pad that evening. The next morning, despite stiffness in his buttocks, left shoulder and left wrist, the petitioner reported to work. The company sent him to the Corbett Clinic, where X rays revealed a severe left wrist sprain and a mild, left buttock contusion. The petitioner was subsequently treated with whirlpool and heat. When the petitioner returned to work three weeks later, numbness in his left leg hindered his ability to walk. The petitioner worked until June 16 or June 20, when he was admitted to the Gottlieb Hospital to treat the numbness in his left leg and buttocks and the pain in his back, buttocks and leg. During his 26-day stay, the petitioner underwent heat treatments and physical therapy for his condition, which was diagnosed as spondylolisthesis of L5-S1 with spondylolysis and some degenerative arthritic changes. Subsequently, for his persistent numbness and pain, the petitioner routinely saw Dr. Maxwell Corbett, who advised him to rest, exercise, and take pain medication.

In November of 1978, Dr. Corbett advised the petitioner to wear a back brace while his sciatic nerve continued to heal. In March of 1979, Dr. Henry Acuna released the petitioner to return to work in April. On April 26, 1979, the petitioner was able to perform his regular work duties for only four hours. The petitioner was hospitalized the next day for tests and physical therapy. In May of 1979, Dr. William Kane found no objective basis for the petitioner's complaints and released him to return to work. The following September the petitioner worked for five days, but had difficulty maintaining his former pace. Dr. Acuna advised him not to return to work.

In November of 1979, Dr. Marshall Matz recommended that the asymptomatic petitioner return to work. In December, when the petitioner returned to work part-time, he noticed that prolonged standing and walking caused severe pain in his buttocks that radiated into his left leg and toes. Dr. Audley Loughran related those symptoms to mild degenerative changes in the petitioner's lower lumbar spine; grade II spondylolisthesis at L5 with secondary degenerative changes at L5-S1; tenderness in his left buttock; mildly decreased lumbar spine motion; and numbness in the petitioner's toes and foot. Dr. Loughran prescribed a back brace and advised the petitioner to continue working.

Between November of 1979 and February 27, 1980, the petitioner worked approximately 24 days. The following May, Dr. Irwin Barnett diagnosed the petitioner's condition as low back injury with bilateral sciatic nerve root irritation; spondylolisthesis involving the 5th lumbar vertebra; defection in the interarticular region of the 5th lumbar vertebra; and flattening of the 5th lumbar disc space. Dr. Barnett opined that the petitioner had major loss of use of his left lower extremity and minor loss of industrial use of his right lower extremity.

In September of 1980, Dr. Corbett opined that the petitioner was capable of light work. At the time of the arbitration, the petitioner's condition had improved and he was receiving no medical treatment.

Arbitrator Angelo Caliendo awarded the petitioner 80 weeks of compensation for his 16% bodily impairment and, in addition, allowed Salvator Bongiorno attorney fees of 20% of the award. Both parties appealed to the Commission.

On review, the petitioner testified that since arbitration he had not returned to work and had undergone heat treatments for his persistent back pain and feet numbness. The January 12, 1983, report of Dr. Corbett, the only doctor the petitioner had consulted since arbitration, indicated that the petitioner was able to occasionally climb and lift up to 10 pounds but could not bend, stoop, or operate foot controls. The Commission adopted Dr. Corbett's findings; found that the accident permanently and totally disabled the petitioner; increased the award to lifetime compensation; and remanded the cause to the Commissioner to determine attorney fees. The circuit court orally reversed the Commission's attorney fees award but its written order confirmed the decision of the Commission. The company appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The supreme court found that the petitioner was both capable of sedentary work and failed to prove total disability by not establishing the unavailability of a reasonably stable labor market for a person with his disability, i.e., by neither proving his education or skills nor suggesting that he fell into an "odd lot" category. The court reversed the judgment and remanded the cause to the Industrial Commission "for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion."

On remand, after Commissioner Ted Black, Jr., allowed the petitioner's counsel to withdraw, the petitioner elected to proceed pro se. At the next hearing, the Commissioner stated that if the parties chose not to present additional evidence he would close proofs and set the cause for argument. The petitioner responded that he would close proofs unless he hired a good lawyer. After the Commissioner determined that no additional evidence would be presented, the petitioner agreed that the Commission's decision would be based solely on the evidence already of record.

In its decision dated February 2, 1984, the Commission collectively awarded attorneys Salvator Bongiorno and Sharon Riley 20% of the petitioner's award. It found Sharon Riley entitled to $1,000 for expending 25 hours on the petitioner's case and permitted attorney Bongiorno fees of $2,547.12. In its May 14, 1984, decision, the Commission only addressed the nature and extent of the petitioner's permanent disability and attorney Riley's second amended petition for fees. The Commission reiterated its prior ruling on attorneys fees. It further found that the petitioner had failed to demonstrate the unavailability of a reasonably stable labor market for a person with his disability; introduced no evidence of his education or skills; and did not suggest that he fell into an "odd lot" category. Consequently, the Commission found that the petitioner was not totally disabled. Except for its ruling on attorney fees, the Commission affirmed the arbitrator's decision and reinstated the petitioner's award for 16% permanent disability.

In confirming the Commission's decision on remand, the circuit court found that the Commission's decision was not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence, as the petitioner had failed to meet his burden of proof at arbitration and on review; that the petitioner's accrued rights from a subsequent condition of permanency had not been prejudiced; that the supreme court did not mandate a review hearing; and that the Commission was not compelled to hear additional evidence. The petitioner appeals from that decision.

Initially we address the company's argument that this appeal should be dismissed because the petitioner failed to attach copies of the decisions of the arbitrator and the Commission to his brief as ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.