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06/21/89 General Electric Company, v. the Industrial Commission

June 21, 1989





546 N.E.2d 987, 190 Ill. App. 3d 847, 137 Ill. Dec. 874 1989.IL.937

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Vermilion County; the Hon. David G. Bernthal, Judge, presiding.


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


Claimant, Ann Holycross, filed two applications for benefit, both on the same day. The first application alleged an accident occurring on February 6, 1985, resulting in injury to her right shoulder, arm, and wrist. The second application alleged an accident occurring on June 25, 1985, resulting again in injury to her right shoulder. The cases were consolidated at arbitration.

Claimant testified at the April 14, 1986, arbitration hearing as follows. On February 6, 1985, claimant had been employed by General Electric for 26 years. At that time, she was a "combination worker," attaching electrical leads and soldering wires onto a ballast. The ballasts weighed about two pounds each, and she would pull down three to five of these ballasts at a time. She stood while performing this job.

As claimant worked with each ballast, she would pull leads down from above and insert them with her right hand. Each lead was inserted into a hold, and the claimant would pound it down. She could then pull the lead out through the hole with her right hand and solder the connection, holding the soldering gun with her right hand. Next, she would push 6 to 12 of these ballasts down the roller belt with her right hand.

Claimant would then go to the other end of the belt and insert leads. She would have to put bundles of leads in a bin. She would lift bundles of these leads with both hands. The bins were at about head level. She would then take ballasts and put them on the roller belt.

The claimant would next pull leads out of the bins and insert several leads into each end of the ballasts. As she finished about five ballasts, she would shove them down the roller belt to other employees and start all over again. She performed these functions all day long, rotating usually from attaching leads to the stringing job.

In the latter part of 1984, while working, claimant began to note pain in her right shoulder, forearm, and hand. She went to the company nurse, who wrapped the arm in an ace bandage and gave her a pain pill. After that, the claimant saw the company nurse about once a week for the same treatment. Claimant did inform her foreman about her problem.

In January 1985, claimant was experiencing breathing problems, and General Electric sent her to Dr. Lopez, who admitted her to St. Elizabeth's Hospital for breathing tests. While she was in the hospital, Dr. Lopez called in Dr. Johnson, an orthopedic doctor, who evaluated her. Dr. Johnson had Dr. Tazudeen, a neurologist, perform an EMG on claimant.

After her release from the hospital, claimant saw Dr. Johnson once a month. The doctor treated her with injections of cortisone and placed a splint on her right forearm which she wore except at work. After three or four months of treatment with Dr. Johnson, claimant seemed to be getting better. Claimant had continued to work during this time.

On June 25, 1985, claimant was performing a different job with ballasts than her regular one. She would push 10-pound ballasts down to the test set, testing them and pushing them on down to the packing station and packing. She worked this particular job for a couple of hours every day.

On June 25, 1985, claimant was getting ready to test the ballasts which were double stacked behind the test set. She went around the test set and shoved about 20 ballasts down to her test set, pushing with her right arm. She felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder which went up into her neck. Claimant went to the nurse, who gave her a pain pill, and she returned to work.

At the beginning of July 1985, claimant took one week's vacation. She returned to work and worked one week, and then took two more weeks' vacation. She then returned to work. She noted that while she was off work, she was not bothered by pain in her shoulder, but as soon as she used pressure, the pain returned.

On August 6, 1985, claimant again saw Dr. Johnson. He continued to give her inflammatory pills, an injection, and had claimant stay home from work. He also prescribed physical therapy two to three times a week and did an arthrogram in September 1985. In November 1985, Dr. Johnson operated on claimant's right shoulder. Following surgery, he prescribed mild therapy two or three times a week. Claimant has not worked since August 6, 1985.

At the time of the hearing, claimant still suffered pain in her right shoulder and right arm. Weather changes produce more pain and aching. Dr. Johnson, whom she continued to see once a month, restricted her lifting to two pounds. When she lifts, she has a lot of pulling and hurting, especially when her right arm is extended. She ...

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