APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION
536 N.E.2d 773, 180 Ill. App. 3d 876, 129 Ill. Dec. 723 1989.IL.306
Appeal from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. William P. Denny, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE McNAMARA delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and WOODWARD, McCULLOUGH, and LEWIS, JJ., concur.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE MCNAMARA
Petitioner, Craig Christman, filed a claim under the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.), alleging injuries to his knees as a result of a fall which occurred on October 6, 1982, while working for respondent, Walsh Construction Company. The arbitrator awarded petitioner 6 5/7 weeks of temporary total disability compensation at $335.84 per week, 70 weeks of permanent partial disability for a 35% loss of use of the right leg at $282.25 per week, and medical benefits. On review, the Industrial Commission (Commission) modified the decision of the arbitrator and awarded petitioner 118 4/7 weeks of temporary total disability at $426.44 per week, medical benefits, penalties under sections 19(k) and 19(l) of the Act, and attorney fees. The Commission found that petitioner's condition had not yet reached a state of permanency and remanded the cause to the arbitrator for further proceedings on the issue of permanent disability. The circuit court of La Salle County confirmed the decision of the Commission. On appeal, respondent contends that the awards of temporary total disability and of penalties were improper.
Petitioner testified that on October 6, 1982, he injured both knees when he fell while working for respondent. He noticed that there was a nail sticking out of his right leg, just below the kneecap. He was treated at the nurse's station and then returned to work. After returning to work, his knees became so sore that he left work and went home. Petitioner next reported to work on October 8, 1982. He again went to the nurse's station and was sent to see the company physician, Dr. Bettasso. Dr. Bettasso took X rays and petitioner returned to work.
Petitioner continued working for respondent but began treatment for "crunching" and pain in his knees. Prior to the end of 1982, he was treated for his knee injuries by Dr. Spenader. Dr. Spenader referred petitioner to an orthopedic specialist, Dr. Al-Masri. Dr. Al-Masri saw petitioner on February 24, 1983, and on March 18, 1983. On each occasion, petitioner complained of pain, swelling, giving out and numbness in both knees. Dr. Al-Masri diagnosed petitioner as having bilateral chondromalacia of the patella. He gave petitioner cortisone injections and prescribed a knee brace for the right knee.
On April 15, 1983, petitioner sustained a back injury while working for respondent. He did not return to work following this injury. While off work, he also received treatment for his knee injuries. In Christman v. Industrial Comm'n (1987), 159 Ill. App. 3d 479, 512 N.E.2d 804, this court found that petitioner's back injury arose out of his employment. Respondent subsequently began to pay temporary total disability benefits to petitioner.
On August 22, 1983, respondent's insurance carrier requested that petitioner be examined by Dr. Marquardt. Dr. Marquardt concluded that petitioner was suffering from chondromalacia of the patella and that the injury petitioner sustained may have aggravated this underlying condition. He also stated that it was possible that petitioner's condition was post-traumatic in nature and secondary to his injury.
On January 10, 1984, petitioner again was examined by Dr. Al-Masri. Dr. Al-Masri determined that petitioner required immediate surgery on both knees. On January 20, 1984, Dr. Al-Masri performed arthroscopic surgery on petitioner's left knee. At that time, Dr. Al-Masri contemplated similar treatment for the right knee.
Both before and after the surgery, petitioner requested that respondent's insurance carrier begin payment of temporary total disability and medical benefits. The carrier replied that no action could be taken until it received additional medical records. Petitioner informed the carrier that petitions for sanctions under section 19(k) and 19(l) of the Act would be filed. The carrier was provided with complete medical records but continued to refuse to pay temporary total disability benefits to petitioner.
Petitioner was released from the hospital on January 23, 1984, and continued to be treated by Dr. Al-Masri. Petitioner's condition did not improve. As a result, on August 20, 1984, he had a patellectomy of the left knee and on February 25, 1985, he had a patellectomy of the right knee. Dr. Al-Masri stated that petitioner was suffering from degenerative arthritis of the patellofemoral joint and chondromalacia of the patella of both knees. He also stated that an injury could aggravate a previously silent early degenerative arthritis and that direct injury to the patella could cause chondromalacia of the patella. Dr. Al-Masri concluded that the injury most likely was permanent and would prevent petitioner from doing heavy labor, standing on his feet for a full day, and climbing and descending stairs.
On July 31, 1984, the arbitrator ruled that petitioner was entitled to temporary total disability benefits of $335.84 per week for a period of 6 5/7 weeks and medical benefits. At that time, the ...