Appeal from Circuit Court of Madison County. No. 91-MR-564. Honorable Michael J. Meehan, Judge Presiding.
As Corrected July 6, 1994.
McCULLOUGH, Rakowski, Woodward, Slater, Rarick
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mccullough
PRESIDING JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court:
Claimant Ronald Criteser filed an application for adjustment of claim on March 16, 1990, alleging he injured his back on April 21, 1989, while working on a vehicle at the employer's place of business. Following a hearing, the arbitrator concluded that claimant failed to establish an accident occurred which arose out of and in the course of employment and denied compensation. On July 31, 1990, the Industrial Commission (Commission) issued a notice of predecision memorandum on review indicating it would reverse the arbitrator's decision and find that claimant sustained an accidental injury arising out of and in the course of employment unless a written request was filed by any party for issuance of a decision setting forth in writing the reasons for the decision within 15 days. The record on appeal shows no such written request was filed with the Commission. On October 7, 1991, the Commission issued a decision which reversed the arbitrator's decision and found that all medical benefits and temporary total disability for 76 2/7 weeks had been paid. The cause was remanded to the arbitrator pursuant to Thomas v. Industrial Comm'n (1980), 78 Ill. 2d 327, 399 N.E.2d 1322, 35 Ill. Dec. 794. The employer appealed, and the circuit court of Madison County confirmed the decision of the Commission finding it was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Thereafter, the employer timely filed its appeal to this court. We affirm.
The issues presented are whether the claimant proved he had a work-related accident and his condition of ill-being was causally related and whether the decision of the Commission was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Initially, we address the form of the Commission's order. The Commission's decision did not set forth a date of injury and did not include in the order the reasons for not adopting all of the arbitrator's decision. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 48, par. 138.19(e).) The Commission not only ignored this statutory requirement but also ignored its own regulations. (See 50 Ill. Adm. Code § 7040.80 (1991).) The notice of predecision memorandum on review, issued July 31, 1990, stated that a failure to file a written request for a decision containing specific findings of fact and Conclusions of law constituted a waiver of the requirement of such a decision pursuant to section 19(e) of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 48, par. 138.19(e)) and acceptance of a summary decision and order as the decision of the Commission. Although the format of the Commission's decision is subject to criticism as previously noted, the record on appeal reveals no written request for such a decision was filed. Moreover, the issue was not raised before the circuit court nor addressed by the employer in its brief before this court. Accordingly, the employer has no basis to now complain of the form of the Commission's order.
At the arbitration hearing held on August 8, 1990, claimant testified that he was 46 years old and on April 21, 1989, he was working on a 1986 half-ton pickup truck which was on a rack on blocks. He was underneath the truck to replace the shocks when the block on the right side blew out, causing the truck to start to fall off the rack. The truck slipped off the blocks but did not fall off the rack. Claimant testified he was struck on his head by part of it. He indicated he worked the next day although he had severe pain in his lower back.
On April 25, 1989, claimant saw Dr. Abron A. Grandia, who subsequently hospitalized claimant for muscle spasms. Claimant was put in traction and given medication for the spasms. Claimant had a myleogram and CAT scan on July 5, 1989, and underwent surgery for a ruptured disk on July 9, 1989.
The admission records from the Alton Memorial Hospital for April 25, 1989, indicate that the date of claimant's injury was April 21, 1989, and it happened when he was bending over working on a car. The discharge summary of Dr. Grandia, dated April 29, 1989, states: "This 46-year-old gentlemen bent over to pick up something and had severe pain across his lower back and some went to his left leg."
In his deposition, Dr. Grandia stated he performed surgery on claimant's back at the L4-L5 disk level during which he found a ruptured disk with a free fragment. Approximately five months later, Dr. Grandia performed more tests and found a second ruptured disk at the L5-S1 level. Dr. Grandia opined that the process of getting claimant back into shape after the first surgery, including exercises and walking, caused the development of the second ruptured disk.
Dr. Grandia explained that when claimant was working on the truck which slipped and fell onto his head, the disk material was injured and pushed out. It was not until claimant bent over on April 25 that the disk actually ruptured and became a free fragment. Dr. Grandia testified: "This gentlemen here, I feel, injured his back when * * *, it occurred when he was working on the Chevette. He had a disk that was damaged.
The report of Dr. Ignacio Rodriguez, medical director of the Medical Claims Review Services, Inc., shows:
"Mr. Criteser suffered an acute disk herniation involving L4-5 on the left while he was dressing on 25 April 1989. The development of this acute disk herniation is, in our medical opinion, completely unrelated to the postural discomfort that Mr. Criteser described on 21 April 1989, following working in an uncomfortable position on a small car. The symptoms of acute disk herniation that occurred on 25 April 1989 are classical and unmistakable. There is no ...