Appeal from Circuit Court of Cook County. NO. 90-L-50984. Honorable JoAnne L. Lanigan, Judge Presiding.
Woodward, McCULLOUGH, Rakowski, Slater, Rarick
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Woodward
JUSTICE WOODWARD delivered the opinion of the court:
The employer, Illinois Bell Telephone Company, appeals from a decision of the circuit court of Cook County which confirmed a decision of the Illinois Industrial Commission awarding benefits to the claimant, Lawrence Urbaniak, for 100% loss of use of his left foot. The following evidence was admitted at the August 18, 1987, arbitration hearing.
Claimant testified that he worked for the employer as a PBX installer. On March 30, 1977, while stepping off a soil pipe, he caught the back of his left heel on a raised concrete slab, and he felt "everything just pulled." He "blacked out" and was taken to the emergency room at Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital. His left foot was X-rayed, and an ace bandage was applied to his left foot; he was given a cane and released from the hospital the same day. The next day, he was examined by Dr. Stone from the employer's medical department. Claimant was off work between March 30, and May 30, 1977. When he returned to work, he was assigned light duty which restricted him from climbing ladders.
Claimant testified further that at the end of May 1977, he experienced difficulty walking; his left foot was going completely numb, and he had no control over it. Dr. Stone referred him to Dr. George Lewinnek who examined him on June 22, 1977. Dr. Lewinnek prescribed Inuducin three times a day. Claimant was again off work between August 8, 1977, and September 23, 1977. Claimant continued to see Dr. Lewinnek who injected cortisone shots into his left ankle. However, by April 1978, claimant returned to Dr. Stone because he could not walk. Dr. Stone referred him to Dr. William Kernahan. After X rays and tests were performed, Dr. Kernahan prescribed a short leg brace for his left leg which he wore for two months. He was again off work between April 5 and September 11, 1978. When he returned to work, he was again on light duty; no ladder climbing and not much walking.
Claimant testified further that on September 20, 1979, he again saw Dr. Kernahan because his left foot was going limp. Dr. Kernahan performed surgery on claimant's left foot on November 7, 1979. Claimant was off work between September 24, 1979, and January 18, 1980. Again, when he returned to work, he was assigned light duties with the same prior restrictions. Claimant noticed a snapping sound coming from the left side of his ankle when he would rise from a sitting position. Dr. Kernahan operated on him again on June 11, 1980. Claimant was off work until September 12, 1980, when he returned to light duties. By December 1980, his left foot was so sore, he could not walk on it. Dr. Kernahan prescribed a left metatarsal pad and orthopedic shoes. By June 1981, he was experiencing a burning sensation on the ball of his foot. He was off work between August 18, and 21, 1981.
Claimant testified further that he again underwent surgery on September 17, 1981, to remove a nerve in his left foot and was off work until December 4, 1981, when he returned to light duties. Scar tissue formed over the incision and a callous developed. The callous grew upwards into his foot, and he could not walk on it. Dr. Kernahan had to trim the callous every two weeks. Eventually, claimant was referred to Dr. Jack Curtin, a plastic surgeon, whom he saw on March 11, 1983, regarding the callous. Dr. Curtin operated on March 28, 1983, but claimant continued to need to have the callous on his left foot trimmed. Claimant continued to see Dr. Kernahan in 1985 and 1986.
Claimant testified further that in 1985 he returned to full duties, working as a PBX installer until November 1986 when he took a surveillance job, essentially a desk job, because he was having problems with his left foot.
Claimant testified further that prior to March 30, 1977, he had had no problems with his left ankle, foot or heel, nor had he had any medical treatment for those areas. At the time of the arbitration hearing, claimant experienced pain in his left heel when he walked; once a week, he had to trim the callous from the bottom of his left foot or he could not walk on it; and he could not be on his feet for more than an hour without having to sit down. Otherwise, he suffered excruciating pain in the ball and heel of his left foot. In order to go out walking, he had to tape his foot up or use an ankle brace.
On cross-examination, claimant acknowledged that he worked as a PBX installer from July 1983 to November 1986. That job required him to be on his feet eight hours a day. He did not miss any time from work during that period because he "paced" himself. He no longer used a leg brace. Although the job required him to climb ladders, he usually had an apprentice. He was no longer taking any medication for his foot.
Certain medical records and doctors' reports were admitted into evidence and are summarized below.
Following his accident on March 30, 1977, claimant underwent four surgical procedures. On November 9, 1979, Dr. Kernahan performed a release of the left tarsal tunnel. On June 13, 1980, Dr. Kernahan performed an excision of loose fragments and reefing of anterior talofibular ligament. On September 18, 1981, Dr. Kernahan performed an excision of Morton's neuroma, left. Finally, on March 28, 1983, Dr. Jack Curtin performed a resection of the plantar callus with resection of the head of the fourth metatarsal and adjacent tissue plantar flap rotation for closure.
In a letter dated December 5, 1978 to the employer's medical director, Dr. Kernahan noted that while hunting in Michigan, claimant suffered some momentary discomfort when he stepped onto a different surface but was able to continue hunting without difficulty. Claimant was also noticing a tendon "jumping" when he sat on the floor with his ...