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02/22/88 Target Stores, v. Ruth Thornton

February 22, 1988

TARGET STORES, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT

v.

RUTH THORNTON, PETITIONER-APPELLEE



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION

520 N.E.2d 999, 166 Ill. App. 3d 790, 117 Ill. Dec. 648 1988.IL.243

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. Jonathan Isbell, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

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

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCNAMARA

Claimant Ruth Thornton sought worker's compensation benefits for injuries allegedly sustained while working for the employer Target Stores. An arbitrator awarded $105.50 per week for 10 2/7 weeks as temporary total disability for a leg injury. The Industrial Commission affirmed this part of the arbitrator's decision.

The arbitrator also awarded claimant $93.33 per week for 30 weeks for the permanent loss of the use of her left leg to the extent of 15%. The Commission modified this allowance, and awarded claimant $93.33 per week for 10 weeks as permanent partial disability to the extent of loss of 5% of the use of her left leg.

The Commission affirmed the arbitrator's award of $4,134.07 for necessary medical expenses.

The arbitrator further awarded claimant $93.33 per week for 75 weeks as permanent partial disability to the extent of 15% in the form of continued swelling and pain in her feet and hands, and uveitis in her left eye. The Commission reversed this portion of the award, finding claimant failed to prove a causal relationship between the work accident and her rheumatoid arthritis or eye inflammation.

The circuit court of Madison County reversed the Commission's decision, finding it to be against the manifest weight of the evidence. The court reinstated the decision of the arbitrator, and the employer appeals.

On November 19, 1979, claimant worked as a stock clerk for Target. On that day, she stood on a ladder, putting boxes on a shelf, when she lost her balance. As she started to fall, she caught herself, twisting or jerking her body to grab the shelf. She felt muscles pulled in her back. "[And] I noticed I had, you know, from the jerk of the position of my feet, my left leg or whatever it was it was in, I had a sharp pain in there . . .." Several days later she began experiencing more pain in her left big toe, which was swollen and purple. She saw Dr. Parich, the company physician, who diagnosed a badly sprained big toe on the left foot. Claimant denied experiencing any problems with regard to her feet or legs prior to November 19, 1979.

Between 1979 and 1983, claimant at times worked either part time or full time, and at times did not work at all. During that period she sought medical advice and treatment from various physicians who diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis. In late August 1982, claimant developed a problem with her left eye. Dr. D. Raghunanda diagnosed anterior and posterior uveitis in the left eye. He thought the arthritis might have caused the ocular condition since no other etiology was apparent.

On appeal, the employer contends that the trial court erred in reversing the decision of the Commission because that decision was supported by the evidence. The issue of causal connection in this case rests upon the credibility of various medical records and opinions. The Commission alone must weigh the evidence, determine the credibility of the witnesses, and resolve conflicting medical opinions. (Interlake, Inc. v. Industrial Comm'n (1983), 99 Ill. 2d 69, 457 N.E.2d 415.) The Commission's Conclusions on these questions will not be disturbed unless they are contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. (Odie v. Industrial Comm'n (1982), 88 Ill. 2d 514, 431 N.E.2d 374.) While different Conclusions could be drawn from the evidence, we cannot say that the findings of the Commission are against the manifest weight of the evidence.

Claimant's treating physician was Dr. Luis Anglo. In finding no causal connection, the Commission was entitled to rely on the fact that Dr. Anglo's records showed that he examined claimant on the day of the accident, yet noted no report of an accidental injury sustained earlier that day. Claimant testified that she saw Dr. Anglo that day because of a bladder infection and that she did not mention the accident. At the time, she was primarily concerned with the bladder infection. Dr. Anglo noted discussing several medical ...


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