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04/04/88 Andrew Majercin, v. the Industrial Commission

April 4, 1988





522 N.E.2d 263, 167 Ill. App. 3d 894, 118 Ill. Dec. 808 1988.IL.484

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Grundy County; the Hon. Robert G. Wren, Judge, presiding.


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


The petitioner, Andrew Majercin, filed a claim under the Workmen's Compensation Act (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.) to recover benefits for disability against Northern Petrochemical Company (the company). The arbitrator awarded the petitioner temporary total disability and benefits for the permanent partial loss of the use of each leg. On review, the Industrial Commission reversed the arbitrator's decision and denied compensation. The circuit court of Grundy County confirmed the decision of the Commission. The petitioner brings this appeal. We affirm.

At the hearing before the arbitrator, the petitioner testified to the following. The petitioner graduated from high school in 1964. He worked for the Clow Corporation from 1964 to 1965 and then for Owens-Illinois Glass Company from 1965 to 1966. From 1966 to 1969 the petitioner served in the United States Air Force. After his discharge from the service, the petitioner returned to Owens-Illinois Glass Company until August of 1970, when he left to attend a year of college.

The petitioner began working for the respondent, Northern Petrochemical Company, in 1971. He worked for three years as a maintenance technician and then until 1978 on an insulation crew. His duties involved considerable climbing of stairs and towers. It also involved considerable amounts of kneeling on concrete or gravel and in tight places such as pipe racks.

The petitioner began experiencing pain in his knees in late 1976. The last day the petitioner worked was on January 4, 1978. Prior to that date, the petitioner had related his knee problems to his supervisor, Ray Gaddo. At two plant safety meetings at which Gaddo was present, the petitioner requested knee pads. The petitioner also discussed his knee problems in at least three private conversations with Gaddo.

Because of increasing pain, the petitioner came under the care of Dr. Bok Choi, an orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Choi performed surgery on the petitioner's right knee on January 6, 1978, and on the petitioner's left knee in March of 1978. Following his two knee operations, the petitioner experienced relief for about eight months. The petitioner returned to work in May of 1978. By the end of 1978, the pain returned and grew progressively worse. In December of 1979, the petitioner went to see Dr. U. K. Sinha. Dr. Sinha recommended surgery. The doctor operated on the petitioner's right knee in February of 1980.

In August of 1980, Dr. Sinha gave the petitioner a release to return to work with a limited duties restriction. When the petitioner attempted to return to work, the respondent sent him to be examined by Dr. Jon Nicosia. About a week later, the petitioner had a meeting with Jim Street, the respondent's industrial relations representative. Street told the petitioner that Dr. Nicosia agreed with Dr. Sinha's work restrictions. Street then explained that because the restrictions would not allow the petitioner to fully perform his job, the company was going to place him on long-term disability.

The petitioner has not returned to work at the company since August of 1980. However, according to the petitioner, the respondent permitted him to bid on other jobs that he felt he was qualified to perform. The petitioner placed bids on five jobs but was unable to secure any of the positions in question.

The petitioner testified that he has constant pain in both knees, the right more than the left. He hears a loud, cracking sound in his right knee when he climbs stairs and in the morning when he gets up. He has numbness on the right side of his right leg. His right knee begins to throb when he sits with his knees bent for a long period. The petitioner's knees, especially the right, begin to hurt when he stands for an extended time. He experiences considerable pain when he puts his full weight on his right leg. The petitioner feels a grating sensation in his knees when he climbs stairs.

On cross-examination, the petitioner admitted that he exercised with weights, lifting from 1966 to 1969, and again from 1972 to 1975. As a part of his exercises, he would bench-press and squat 200 to 250 pounds, repeatedly lowering himself into a stooping position on both knees. He did not feel any pain in his knees during these exercises. The petitioner also admitted that at one time he struck his knees against some pipes while he ...

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