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Litchfield Healthcare Center v. Industrial Commission

June 09, 2004

LITCHFIELD HEALTHCARE CENTER, APPELLANT,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (GRETCHEN NEWINGHAM, APPELLEE.)



APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY No. 02 MR 46 HONORABLE WILLIAM J. BECKER, JUDGE PRESIDING.

Justices: Honorable Thomas E. Hoffman, J. Honorable Thomas E. Callum, J., and Honorable Richard P. Goldenhersh, J., Concur Honorable John T. McCullough, P.J., and Honorable William E. Holdridge, J., Dissent

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hoffman

UNPUBLISHED

Litchfield Healthcare Center (Litchfield) appeals from an order of the circuit court reversing a decision of the Industrial Commission (Commission), denying the claimant, Gretchen Newingham, benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 2000)). For the reasons which follow, we affirm.

The following factual recitation is taken from the evidence adduced at the arbitration hearing.

Litchfield operates a residential health care facility in a two-story building located at 1285 Union Street in Litchfield, Illinois. It is the sole occupant of the building which is bordered by parking areas on the east, west, and north sides, and has sidewalks running from the parking areas to doors located on each of the three sides. Litchfield maintained the building and the surrounding areas.

The claimant began working for Litchfield as a certified nursing assistant on May 25, 2000. Her duties consisted of giving snacks and drinks to the residents, giving the residents showers, and preparing them for bed.

The claimant testified that, when she began working for Litchfield, a secretary named Donna Able "suggested" that she park her car in the north parking lot. The north parking lot was also used by visitors to the facility. The claimant admitted that, on occasion, she would park in the west parking lot when the north lot was full.

On September 24, 2000, the claimant arrived at Litchfield's facility approximately 10 minutes before her 2 p.m. shift was to begin. According to the claimant, she parked in the north parking lot and walked to the entrance door on the north side of the building. Upon entering, she punched in at the time clock located immediately inside of the door. After punching in, the claimant realized that she had forgotten her "gait belt" in her car. A gait belt is a device used to hold a resident as he or she is being lifted. The claimant testified that she was required to have a gait belt and she could be disciplined if she did not have it.

The claimant exited the building and returned to her car. After retrieving the belt, she began walking back to the building with another certified nursing assistant who had arrived for work. In describing the events which followed, the claimant stated:

"She [the other certified nursing assistant] come [sic] walking up next to me. We both stepped up onto the sidewalk and she kind of invaded my space a little so I kind of stepped off the edge of the sidewalk and she moved and I got back on the sidewalk and I took a couple of steps and as I --when I was walking where the concrete is not level with each other, I started to trip on that part of the sidewalk, and as I started to fall, I tried to grab her so I wouldn't totally fall and when I tried to catch myself with my left foot, that's when I rolled my ankle off the sidewalk."

The claimant suffered a "severe ankle and foot sprain" but did not sustain a fracture or dislocation.

The claimant was treated at St. Francis Hospital's emergency room on the day of her fall. Thereafter, the claimant underwent conservative treatment and physical therapy. On February 12, 2001, the claimant underwent surgery to repair ligaments around her left ankle. She was off work from the date of her injury until the arbitration hearing on March 9, 2001.

Following a section 19(b) (820 ILCS 305/19(b)(West 2000)) hearing, the arbitrator found that the claimant sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the scope of her employment and that her condition of ill-being is causally related to those injuries. The arbitrator awarded the claimant temporary total disability (TTD) benefits for a period of 23 5/7 weeks ...


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