APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION
521 N.E.2d 661, 167 Ill. App. 3d 753, 118 Ill. Dec. 379 1988.IL.504
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Robert E. Manning, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WOODWARD delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and McCULLOUGH, McNAMARA, and CALVO, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOODWARD
Claimant, James Randolph, filed an application for adjustment of claim under the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.) for a work-related injury which occurred on March 31, 1978. On August 1, 1979, the arbitrator found claimant was permanently and totally disabled under the Act and was entitled to $728 for reasonable and necessary medical expenses. Respondent appealed the arbitrator's decision and the Industrial Commission (Commission) found on July 9, 1980, that claimant was temporarily totally disabled to February 28, 1980, for a period of 99 6/7 weeks and that he was entitled to $728 for necessary and reasonable medical costs and rehabilitation services.
Claimant then sought additional temporary total disability on May 31, 1983. The arbitrator found that claimant was temporarily totally disabled for a period of 159 weeks and was entitled to $1,668.74 for reasonable and necessary medical expenses. The Commission modified the arbitrator's decision and found that claimant was temporarily totally disabled to November 19, 1980, and from March 10 to March 12, 1982, and was entitled to $1,668.74 for medical expenses.
The circuit court of Peoria County set aside the Commission's decision and on remand directed the Commission to award claimant temporary total disability payments accruing from February 29, 1980, to March 12, 1982. The Commission did so, and this appeal followed.
Respondent's primary argument is that the circuit court's decision to set aside the Commission's finding is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Respondent also contends that the assessment of the extent of temporary total disability is within the Commission's discretion and expertise and, also, that the Commission was in the best position to Judge the witnesses' credibility. Discussion of these final two contentions will be subsumed in the Discussion of the principal issue.
A recitation of the relevant facts is helpful at this point. On March 31, 1978, claimant, while working for the respondent, bent down to remove a can from a conveyor belt and, upon straightening up, felt a searing pain in his back. Claimant was subsequently hospitalized several times for lower back pain and underwent a laminectomy, performed by Dr. Jesse Weinger, in July 1978.
Claimant sought further care from Dr. Weinger on February 28, 1980, and on May 19, 1980. Claimant had previously been seen by Dr. Weinger on July 5, 1979, and at that time, it was the opinion of Dr. Weinger that claimant "should be on permanent disability." On May 19, 1980, Dr. Weinger recommended that claimant obtain a Raney brace to see if it might relieve some of his symptoms and facilitate the evaluation of a possible spinal fusion. In his report to respondent dated June 2, 1982, Dr. Weinger stated that "he [claimant] did not know at that time [May 19, 1980] whether he wanted to wear a brace and I told him that if not, he should just see me in follow-up in six months."
Claimant testified that he did not recall Dr. Weinger telling him to return in six months after the May 19, 1980, examination. There are no pertinent medical records that shed any light on the disputed instruction. Claimant stated that he submitted a requisition to respondent requesting money to buy the Raney brace, which costs between $600 and $700. The respondent evidently refused this request.
Claimant did not see Dr. Weinger again until February 18, 1982. Claimant testified that in the interim his condition steadily deteriorated and that he had not sought any medical treatment. Claimant stated that in 1981, he found it increasingly difficult to get up the three flights of stairs to his apartment and began having other people do his housekeeping.
At his doctor's appointment on February 18, 1982, claimant told Dr. Weinger that his condition was getting worse. Claimant complained of pain in his ...