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09/26/89 Marion Ludwig, v. the Industrial Commission

September 26, 1989

MARION LUDWIG, APPELLANT

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (OTTAWA INDUSTRIAL SAND COMPANY, APPELLEE)



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION

549 N.E.2d 1, 192 Ill. App. 3d 729, 139 Ill. Dec. 678 1989.IL.1489

Appeal from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. Thomas R. Flood, 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

Petitioner, Marion Ludwig, widow of the deceased employee Harold Ludwig, appeals from the Industrial Commission's (Commission's) denial of worker's compensation benefits for a fatal myocardial infarction decedent suffered allegedly as a result of his employment with respondent Ottawa Industrial Sand Company. An arbitrator found a causal connection between the death and the work activities and awarded petitioner $356.41 per week until the period of 20 years has passed, or until $250,000 has been paid, whichever is greater, plus medical and burial expenses, and $9,440 for attorney fees. The Commission set aside the award, finding that petitioner failed to prove a causal connection. The circuit court of La Salle County confirmed the Commission's decision. Petitioner appeals, contending that the Commission's finding of no causal connection is against the manifest weight of the evidence.

Decedent worked as a maintenance foreman for respondent, where he had been employed for 25 years. Decedent's last day of work was September 10, 1983. He died of heart failure on the following day. No autopsy was performed.

Three major issues arose: whether decedent suffered stress as a result of increased work pressures several months before his death; whether decedent suffered stress from unusually heavy physical exertions the day before his death; and whether petitioner proved causal connection between either type of stress and decedent's death.

Witnesses for petitioner testified that from June through September 10, 1983, decedent carried extra responsibilities and suffered unusual stress at work.

Bob Savage, a co-worker, testified that during 1983 the maintenance employees had been doing more work with less manpower. Certain jobs had been eliminated, and the machinery broke down frequently. They were also short of men, especially during the week prior to decedent's death. Decedent had complained about these problems to Savage.

Russ Myers, a co-worker, testified similarly. Decedent was pushing himself very hard and complained that there was too much work. Some days decedent tried to help Myers on physical jobs, but decedent would "get real short winded and have to sit down." Myers saw such physical reactions once or twice a week.

Steve Hicks, a co-worker, testified that in September 1983 there were shortages and equipment shutdowns. Moreover, decedent assumed additional responsibilities because the other foreman was on vacation.

Donald Thompson, a maintenance clerk, gave a written statement to respondent that the week prior to his death, decedent was depressed and complained he did not feel he could do his job.

Petitioner testified that her husband was often fatigued during the six months prior to his death and complained of insufficient manpower at work. He worked six or seven days a week and was called to work at odd hours a dozen times during the last six months of his ...


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