APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION
523 N.E.2d 912, 169 Ill. App. 3d 459, 120 Ill. Dec. 1 1988.IL.316
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Mary M. Conrad, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and McNAMARA, WOODWARD, and CALVO, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCCULLOUGH
Claimant, an elementary school teacher, filed two applications for adjustment of claim under the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.) for separate incidents occurring on January 5, 1976, and January 5, 1978. During the course of the compensation proceedings claimant was allowed to amend his applications to seek compensation under the Occupational Diseases Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 172.36 et seq.). The arbitrator awarded claimant $251.09 for 210 6/7 weeks of disability under section 19(b) of the Occupational Diseases Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 172.54(b)). Claimant was also awarded medical benefits and respondent was ordered to provide rehabilitation services. On review, the Industrial Commission (Commission) affirmed the arbitrator, but vacated the rehabilitation award and remanded to the arbitrator for proceedings on the issue of permanent disability. On certiorari, the circuit court confirmed the Commission order. Respondent filed a timely notice of appeal. On appeal, the issue is whether claimant established he was exposed to or suffered from a compensable occupational disease.
Claimant, a 56-year-old school teacher, was employed by respondent from June 1967 to June 1978 and was assigned exclusively to the Hefferen Elementary School, where he taught a variety of subjects. In September 1978, instead of returning to his teaching duties after the summer recess, claimant sought treatment at the Portage-Cragin Mental Health Center, where he was counseled on a weekly basis by Deborah Gessner, a psychiatric social worker. Claimant took a 25-month leave of absence from the Chicago Board of Education (Board) and except for tutoring a blind student and selling hot dogs for a short time was not gainfully employed during that period. He applied for reinstatement to his teaching position in January 1981 but was rejected because he failed a psychiatric evaluation conducted by respondent's psychiatrist.
At the hearing before the arbitrator, Deborah Gessner testified she counseled claimant for a "great psychological debilitation" which she stated was caused by the gradual deterioration of claimant's work environment, chaos in the classroom, lack of support from the administration, physical assault by students, inability to comply with school regulations, unmanageable students, inability to control the classroom, and physical isolation in a mobile classroom detached from the main school facility. Gessner testified claimant's condition was a reactive depression characterized by feelings of hopelessness, failure and inadequacy emanating from claimant's work environment.
On cross-examination, Gessner discounted claimant's childhood experiences and the fact he had been hospitalized for psychiatric care while in the Army in 1944 as factors in claimant's present condition of ill-being. Gessner also believed claimant had a stable marital and family relationship with his wife and children which was not a source of claimant's depression.
Claimant testified before the arbitrator he graduated from high school in 1940 and worked until he was drafted into the Army in 1943. He was discharged from his noncombat position 18 months later after hospitalization for a psychiatric disorder. He subsequently attended several universities and worked principally as an insurance salesman, first for New York Life Insurance Company from 1953 to 1960, and from 1960 to 1967 as a self-employed insurance broker. He worked for respondent as a substitute teacher during the 1960's and became a full-time substitute in 1967.
Petitioner testified extensively concerning incidents of stress, assaults, and injuries he received in the course of his teaching duties. On March 4, 1974, while unloading teaching materials from his car, which he was forced to remove from a mobile classroom each evening because of vandalism, claimant was struck on his right shoulder by a piece of concrete.
On March 18, 1974, while performing the same task, he was robbed at knife point by three men. While cooperating with police in the investigation of this crime, he received an anonymous phone call directing him to drop the investigation.
On April 3, 1974, a female student engaged in a fight with another student, kicked and scratched him when he attempted to intervene.
On May 9, 1974, he was kicked and bitten by a student who was engaged in a fistfight.
On the last day of school in 1973 claimant was chased from the school yard by 12 to 15 students and was ...