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04/10/97 KRAFT GENERAL FOODS v. INDUSTRIAL

April 10, 1997

KRAFT GENERAL FOODS, FORMERLY KNOWN AS NABISCO BRAND FOODS, INC., APPELLANT,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (ROCCO GIANVECCHIO, APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kendall County. Honorable Grant S. Wegner, Judge Presiding.

Released for Publication May 9, 1997.

The Honorable Justice Rakowski delivered the opinion of the court. Rakowski, J., with McCULLOUGH, P.j., and Colwell, Holdridge, and Rarick, JJ., concurring.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Rakowski

The Honorable Justice RAKOWSKI delivered the opinion of the court:

Claimant, Rocco Gianvecchio, filed two applications for adjustment of claim pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act (the Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 1994)) for injuries he sustained on February 1, 1992, and June 6, 1992, while working for Kraft General Foods (employer). The cases were consolidated for hearing.

As to the February 1, 1992, incident, the arbitrator found claimant suffered an injury to his right shoulder but awarded no permanency. This decision was not appealed.

As to the June 6, 1992, incident, the arbitrator found claimant suffered an accident on that date and his condition of ill-being was causally connected to it. He awarded claimant 5% loss of use of the left arm and 25% loss of use of the right arm. The Industrial Commission (the Commission) adopted and affirmed. On administrative review, the circuit court of Kendall County confirmed. Employer appeals only the right arm award, contending that the Commission's decision is against the manifest weight of the evidence. Employer also argues that the Commission erred with respect to the opinion of claimant's expert, Dr. Coe. Although employer presents three separate issues in this regard, the issues are interrelated. According to employer, Dr. Coe's opinion is not inconsistent, and is the sole medical opinion on causation. Therefore, because Dr. Coe is claimant's doctor, the opinion is binding on claimant. We disagree and affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

Claimant was a mechanic for employer. At the time of his accidents, he had worked for employer for 25 years and was 56 years old.

He testified that on February 1, 1992, while changing lines, he lifted a tube and strained his right shoulder. He received conservative treatment at the Copley Urgent Care Center. After this incident, he continued to work full-time and overtime.

On June 6, 1992, claimant was working on a ladder. He slipped and fell backwards onto the line. He stated that the landing jarred his whole body and his shoulders began to hurt. The following Monday he received treatment at Copley. He was referred to Dr. Reilly, an orthopedic specialist. After receiving treatment from Dr. Reilly, he underwent surgery on his right shoulder. Claimant lost little, if any, time from work following the second accident up to the time of his surgery.

The records of Dr. Reilly were admitted into evidence. He first saw claimant on July 20, 1992. At this time, the only complaints and diagnosis in the record concerned claimant's left shoulder. He again saw claimant on August 17, 1992, at which time claimant complained of problems with both shoulders. Dr. Reilly's notes of October 27, 1992, stated that claimant again complained of pain in his right shoulder. Dr. Reilly recommended a MRI of the right shoulder based on claimant's "persistent complaints being this long a period of time." Although claimant received treatment subsequent to the second accident, Dr. Reilly's records are not clear as to what treatment was rendered to the left shoulder and what to the right shoulder.

On November 13, 1992, a MRI showed a small tear in the right rotator cuff. Dr. Reilly recommended surgical intervention. On January 26, 1993, due to persistent complaints of pain, claimant elected to proceed with surgery. The surgery was performed on March 31, 1993, at which time, Dr. Reilly repaired the rotator cuff and performed a Mumford procedure. Claimant continued to see Dr. Reilly for follow-up care. On July 1, 1993, Dr. Reilly released claimant to return to light duty work. Claimant returned to work on July 23, 1992, when light duty was available. On October 5, 1993, Dr. Reilly released claimant to full duties.

At claimant's attorney's request, Dr. Coe examined claimant. In a letter dated May 12, 1994, he outlined both of claimant's accidents and treatment subsequent thereto. He noted that in the second accident, claimant felt pain in both shoulders, although more in his left than his right. He further noted that Dr. Reilly's records indicated that on August 17, 1992, claimant complained of pain in both shoulders and that on October 27, 1992, he complained of marked pain in his right shoulder. In the "Case Summary" section of his letter, Dr. Coe attributed the right shoulder injury to the February 1, 1992, accident. He attributed the left shoulder injury to the June 6, 1992, ...


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