Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 13th Judicial Circuit, LaSalle County, Illinois No. 98 MR 21 Honorable James Lanuti Judge Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge
Claimant, Marianne Smith, filed a claim pursuant to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (the Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq.) (West 1996)) seeking compensation for a right shoulder injury that she sustained on March 26, 1992, while employed by Burns Security (the employer).
The arbitrator found that claimant sustained accidental injuries, which arose out of and within the course of her employment, and which were causally connected to her March 26, 1992, accident. The arbitrator awarded claimant temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, a wage differential (WD), medical expenses, and penalties.
The Illinois Industrial Commission (the Commission) affirmed in part and vacated in part the arbitrator's TTD benefit award, vacated the WD and penalties award, awarded claimant permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, and otherwise affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision.
The circuit court of LaSalle County reversed the Commission's decision concerning the disputed TTD period, reinstated the arbitrator's TTD benefit award for that period, and confirmed the Commission's PPD benefit award.
Claimant worked as a security supervisory officer for the employer. This position required her to pass an annual physical agility and weaponry test. As of March 1992, her hourly rate of pay was $14.70.
On March 26, 1992, and in an attempt to break an airlock seal at the employer's Unit One reactor, claimant injured her right shoulder. On March 27, 1992, and upon the employer's referral, she was seen by Dr. Ralph Tack, who took x-rays, prescribed medication, and ordered physical therapy, which she underwent through November 1992. Dr. Tack referred her to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Rezin, who after taking a history and exam opined that "evidently she injured her right shoulder at work on March 26, 1992," and he diagnosed her with a rotator cuff tear. He prescribed shoulder injections and an arthrogram.
On July 23, 1992, claimant underwent an acromioplasty and a rotator cuff repair performed by Dr. Rezin. In October 1992, Dr. Rezin noted that claimant "really has a restricted range of motion." On November 6, 1992, Dr. Rezin noted claimant was "lacking some external rotation and still having some weakness, prescribing another couple of weeks of therapy." He released her to return to work on November 6, 1992. However, due to the employer's delay, she was told to report to work on November 30, 1992. When she reported to work the employer told her that she was laid off, and that her TTD benefit payments were terminated.
In February 1993, claimant was examined by Dr. Gerald McDonald, who found a protruding mass in the superior aspect of her right shoulder, in addition to deformity, tenderness, and limited range of motion.
Claimant continued to treat with Dr. Rezin. He made a post-surgical diagnosis of impingement syndrome of the right shoulder. His April and May 1993 notes indicated her ongoing pain and range of motion limitations.
In June 1993, the employer referred claimant to orthopedic surgeon Dr. Daniel Mass, who diagnosed her with a partial rotator cuff tear and subacromial inflammation. In July 1993, after Dr. Mass indicated that claimant continued to be disabled from employment, the employer reinstated her TTD benefits. In October 1993, due to her continued pain and functional loss, Dr. Mass performed a second acromioplasty and a distal clavicle resection. Thereafter, Dr. Mass prescribed physical therapy and medication, which continued through September 1994.
In 1994, the employer revised its employee classifications, and its minimum standards for firearms and agility testing. In March 1994, Dr. McDonald again examined claimant, and his findings were consistent with his earlier exam. He opined that there was a causal relationship between claimant's March 1992, accident and her subsequent symptoms and treatment, as well as her physical abnormalities. He believed that her condition was now permanent, and that she would never be able to perform her prior duties as a security supervisory officer.
On September 29, 1994, Dr. Mass released claimant to return to work as of October 3, 1994, which was conditioned upon her re-certification in weaponry and agility testing. He noted that "[i]f she cannot pass the re-certification exam, then she will have to be retrained for another job."
On October 3, 1994, claimant reported to work, but was told that she was still laid off. The employer did not seek re-certification of claimant, but instead, continued her TTD benefits until January 6, 1995, at which time it suspended those benefits "until Dr. Mass issued a restriction letter."
In spring 1995, claimant enrolled in a computer class, and consulted with a vocational rehabilitative service, which after testing suggested a vocational change. Claimant filed a 19(b) motion for continued benefits. ...