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08/25/89 Gloria Phillips, v. the Industrial Commission

August 25, 1989

GLORIA PHILLIPS, APPELLANT

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (C.F. BRAUN CONSTRUCTORS, INC., APPELLEE)



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION

543 N.E.2d 946, 187 Ill. App. 3d 704, 135 Ill. Dec. 378 1989.IL.1310

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Will County; the Hon. William R. Penn, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

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

Claimant, Gloria Phillips, sought worker's compensation benefits for an ankle and leg injury allegedly suffered as a result of an accident which occurred while she worked for respondent, C.F. Braun Contractors, Inc. An arbitrator denied benefits after finding that claimant failed to prove a causal relationship between the accident and her present condition of ill-being. The Industrial Commission (Commission), with one member Dissenting, affirmed that decision. The circuit court of Will County confirmed the Commission's decision. Claimant appeals, contending that the Commission's decision is against the manifest weight of the evidence.

Claimant worked as a secretary for respondent. On June 26, 1985, she was walking down a step at work when her left ankle and knee twisted inward. She experienced pain and notified her supervisor of the accident. The shooting pain in her foot and ankle radiated up into her left leg. She was treated by several physicians who diagnosed a sprained ankle and initially advised her not to work. Finally, in 1986 a physician diagnosed, and began treating for her for, a nerve injury. In June 1986, claimant attempted to return to work to fill in for another secretary. After 15 minutes seated at a desk, her left leg was very painful. She left work after four hours due to the extreme pain. She has not worked since that time. At the time of arbitration, claimant still experienced pain on prolonged sitting and when bearing weight on her left foot. She can sit, stand and walk for only brief periods before experiencing a sharp, burning pain radiating up her left leg. She walks with a limp, and her left leg is weak.

Dr. Dwight Woiteshek, an orthopedic surgeon, examined claimant on July 1, 1985. He observed that she walked with a limp and complained of pain in her left foot, ankle and leg. The foot was swollen and discolored. He diagnosed a sprained ankle and prescribed a short leg walking cast from July 1 to July 23, 1985. She continued to experience pain and noted little improvement in her condition. A bone scan of the left foot was normal. On August 14, 1985, he released claimant to return to work.

Dr. Alvin Kanter, an orthopedic surgeon, examined claimant on September 17, 1985. Claimant walked with a limp and experienced pain radiating from the left foot up through her leg. He diagnosed an inversion injury to the left ankle, treated it with rest and pain medication, and released claimant for work on November 7, 1985. On November 26, 1985, Dr. Kanter again saw claimant. She had the same complaints of leg pain. He advised her to apply heat and seek a job. On February 27, 1986, claimant reported continued radiating pain, and Dr. Kanter diagnosed a residual sprain of the left ankle with some residual symptomatology and discharged her from his case.

Dr. Douglas Anderson, a neurosurgeon at Loyola, examined claimant on November 26, 1986. Dr. Anderson diagnosed L5 radiculopathy, dystrophic in nature, potentially relative reflex sympathetic dystrophy or traumatic radiculitis. The myelogram and CT scan were normal. The final diagnosis was traumatic radiculopathy. Following conservative treatment, Dr. Anderson suggested surgery to implant a spinal epidural stimulator to treat the intractable pain syndrome, but claimant declined this option.

Dr. Anderson testified at a deposition that in his opinion the present condition of ill-being was caused by the June 26, 1985, work accident. At the time claimant twisted her left ankle and leg, she suffered a stretch injury of the peripheral nerves associated with the L5 dermatone and myotome in the lower left leg. Claimant had been disabled from the time of the accident on June 26, 1985, and was still unable to return to her duties. Dr. Anderson had not released her to return to work. He was not very optimistic and described her prognosis as "guarded."

Dr. Steven Mash examined claimant on April 9, 1986, at respondent's request. Dr. Mash diagnosed a post -- strain-sprained left foot. Carolyn Good and Robin Plese testified for claimant that they heard Dr. Mash refer claimant to Loyola Medical Center for treatment of a "serious problem." Dr. Mash could not recall making the referral, but he did note that she was in need of further evaluation. Dr. Mash was not asked to express an opinion about causation. He agreed that twisting or stretching the ankle or foot could result in a leg injury, and that there was a "reasonable possibility" that claimant sustained such an injury. Dr. Mash did not examine claimant's leg and restricted his examination to her foot and ankle.

On April 14, 1987, the arbitrator concluded that claimant failed to prove a causal connection and denied any compensation. On July 7, 1987, the Commission, with one member Dissenting, adopted the findings of the arbitrator, merely commenting that they were supported by evidence in the record.

The trial court found that the Commission's decision was not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence ...


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