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07/02/87 Marian Smith, v. the Industrial Commission

July 2, 1987





512 N.E.2d 712, 161 Ill. App. 3d 383, 111 Ill. Dec. 323

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. Matthew A. Jurczak, Judge, presiding. 1987.IL.949


JUSTICE KASSERMAN delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and McCULLOUGH, McNAMARA, and WOODWARD, JJ., concur.


On May 23, 1983, Marian Smith (claimant) filed an application for adjustment of claim under the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.). Claimant alleged that she sustained an accidental injury on November 11, 1982, while employed by Lakeview Medical Center (Lakeview). After a hearing pursuant to section 19(b) of the Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 48, par. 138.19(b)) an arbitrator awarded claimant temporary total disability compensation of $112.48 per week for 49 6/7 weeks and medical expenses in the amount of $7,241.09. On review, the Industrial Commission increased the temporary total disability award to 89 2/7 weeks and otherwise affirmed the decision of the arbitrator. On review, the circuit court of Vermilion County reversed, finding that the decision of the Industrial Commission as to causation was against the manifest weight of the evidence. The claimant has perfected this appeal.

The 47-year-old claimant was the only witness at the arbitration hearing. She testified that she was employed as an industrial medicine coordinator and that her duties were secretarial and included scheduling appointments and assessing incoming patients. On Thursday, November 11, 1982, while standing on her toes reaching to a high shelf, she "had a pulling in the right neck." She notified her supervisor, Dr. John Spencer, Lakeview's industrial doctor, but continued working that day and the next. She stated that the pain was severe and got worse on Friday. On Friday, a co-worker, Polly Hawkins, a licensed practical nurse (LPN2), gave claimant two Tylenol, then three aspirin, and then a massage. Dr. Spencer stated that claimant was having muscle spasms. Claimant told Hawkins to stop the massage because it was too painful. Claimant testified that on Saturday morning "the right side of my face was -- the eye was completely closed and the whole face was down and the mouth was completely screwed under and it was numb." She complained of headaches and was in severe pain.

Claimant went to the emergency room at Lakeview Medical Center on Saturday and was admitted. Hospital records indicate that the initial diagnosis was an acute cervical strain with occipital neuralgia (pain originating in the nerves in back of the scalp). Dr. Fogel, a neurologist, performed an examination which indicated mild ptosis (drooping) and mydriasis (dilation of a pupil) of the right eye. A CAT scan and lumbar puncture were normal. Dr. Fogel's impression was acute cervical strain with radiculitis (inflammation of a root of a spinal nerve as it emerges from the spinal cord) and right occipital neuralgia. Claimant testified that Dr. Fogel prescribed a cervical collar for her to wear.

In a follow-up report dated November 24, 1982, Dr. Fogel stated that he saw claimant that day and that she felt much improved and that she was having only rare headaches, usually when she went without the cervical collar for extended periods. His examination revealed no occipital nerve tenderness or cervical spasm. He did note a mild ptosis and mydriasis of the right eye and that his prescription for the ptosis had not improved the condition. He also noted, however, that he had seen some photos that indicated that claimant had some ptosis of the right eye for a number of years. Dr. Fogel released her for work in five days with the cervical collar.

Claimant returned to work on November 29, 1982. She testified that Dr. Spencer, her supervisor, refused to allow her to wear the collar at work and refused to allow her to use a high-back chair.

A report by Lakeview's Rehabilitation Service indicates that claimant was given a home cervical unit to use. Dr. Fogel provided follow-up care for one month and claimant also saw her family physician, Dr. Hetherington. Nerve blocks were prescribed for the headaches, and she continued to use the cervical collar. Dr. Hetherington ordered vitamin studies and referred claimant to Dr. Peter Hall, a neurologist at Wishard Memorial Hospital in the Indiana University Medical Center. In a letter dated April 12, 1983, from Dr. Hall to Dr. Hetherington, Dr. Hall states that he saw claimant on April 6, 1983. He also recounts that claimant's ptosis and numbness lasted four weeks before it recovered but that "[in] December, she developed recurrence of the same problem with numbness over the right mandible [the bone of the lower jaw] and with drooping of the right face, dilation of the right pupil, and difficulty with depth perception in the right eye. The pain is now fully resolved in the right neck and shoulder but her other problems persist." Dr. Hall was confused about the physical findings.

Claimant was admitted to Wishard Memorial Hospital on April 13, 1983, for three days. Hospital records appear to indicate that all tests were normal. Dr. Hall released claimant to return to work on April 25, 1983.

Claimant testified that her medication (Elavil, Valium, Dalmane) caused the following problems: headaches, constipation, inability to urinate, dry mouth. She further stated that she was bloated and terribly nervous.

On May 3, 1983, while claimant was at work, a co-worker dropped some trays and dishes on the cement floor behind claimant. Claimant became very agitated and was taken to the emergency room. Medication was prescribed and she was sent home. She had not returned to work as of the date of the Industrial Commission hearing. A typed note dated May 17, 1983, signed by Dr. ...

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