APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF COOK COUNTY No. 08 L 51158 COMPENSATION COMMISSION, (COUNTY OF COOK, ) HONORABLE ELMER J. TOLMAIRE, III JUDGE PRESIDING.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Hoffman
The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prio r to the filing o f a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.
JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.
Presiding Justice McCullough and Justices Hudson and Holdridge concurred in the judgment and the opinion. Justice Stewart specially concurred, with opinion.
The claimant, Robert Baumgardner, appeals from a judgment of the Circuit Court of Cook County which confirmed a decision of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) that declined to award him a scheduled permanent partial disability award under section 8(e)12 of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/8(e)12 (West 2002)) for injuries he sustained on April 8, 1996, in addition to a wage-differential award under section 8(d)1 (820 ILCS 305/8(d)1 (West 2002)). For the reasons which follow, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.
The claimant filed three applications for adjustment of claim pursuant to the Act (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 2002)), seeking benefits for injuries he allegedly received while in the employ of the respondent, the County of Cook (County), on April 8, 1996 (case No. 96 WC 24022), May 4, 1998, (case No. 98 WC 65658), and August 7, 1998 (case No. 98 WC 65659). A consolidated arbitration hearing was conducted on all three applications. The following factual recitation is taken from the evidence presented at the consolidated arbitration hearing.
The claimant began working for the County in 1994 as a Laborer I, performing heavy-duty tasks. On April 8, 1996, he was pulling branches from a ditch when he slipped on an incline and felt his right knee "pop," which caused immediate pain. The claimant notified his supervisor and was taken directly to the Palos Primary Care Center. Following an examination and x-rays, an immobilizer was placed on his right leg, and he was referred to his primary care physician for additional treatment. The following day, the claimant saw his primary care doctor, who ordered an MRI and referred him to Dr. Clay Canaday, an orthopedic surgeon. The MRI indicated that the claimant had sustained a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee, which was surgically repaired by Dr. Canaday on May 7, 1996. After the surgery, the claimant underwent physical therapy from May 14, 1996, to August 1, 1996. He was off work from April 9, 1996, to October 16, 1996, when Dr. Canaday released him to work without any restrictions.
On December 31, 1996, the claimant again injured his right knee when he hyper-extended it while walking at home. As a result of this incident, the claimant was off work from December 31, 1996, to April 2, 1997. Though he released the claimant to return to work, Dr. Canaday prescribed a knee brace to be worn at all times. On April 22, 1997, the claimant was injured at work when his knee "popped" and buckled while he was cleaning trash from a ditch. The claimant was taken to the hospital and subsequently treated with Dr. Canaday, who ordered him to remain off work until May 12, 1997.
Dr. Canaday examined the claimant on July 1, 1997, and determined that the injuries sustained on December 31, 1996, and April 22, 1997, exacerbated the condition in his right knee originally caused by the initial employment accident on April 8, 1996. Dr. Canaday also concluded that the claimant's right-knee condition was permanent and that he would require a continuous exercise program to maintain his muscle strength. Following this examination, Dr. Canaday released the claimant to return to full duty, but with the restriction that he not work on inclines or in ditches or trenches. In a report ...