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Workers' Compensation Commission Division Chicago Transit Authority v. the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission et al.

March 11, 2013

WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION DIVISION CHICAGO TRANSIT AUTHORITY, APPELLANT,
v.
THE ILLINOIS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION ET AL. (SYLVIA TIMMS, APPELLEE). )



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois Circuit No. 11-L-50344 Honorable Robert Lopez-Cepero, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Holdridge

PRESIDING JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hoffman, Hudson, and Stewart concurred in the judgment and opinion.

Justice Turner dissented, with opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 The claimant, Sylvia Timms, filed an application for adjustment of claim pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 to 30 (West 2008)), seeking benefits from the employer, Chicago Transit Authority, for injuries she suffered on March 18, 2010.

¶ 2 After a hearing, an arbitrator found that the claimant proved she sustained psychological injuries arising out of and in the course of her employment with the employer and awarded her total temporary disability (TTD) benefits and medical expenses.

¶ 3 The employer filed a petition for review of the arbitrator's decision before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission). A majority of the Commission affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision.

¶ 4 Thereafter, the employer filed a petition seeking judicial review in the circuit court of Cook County. The court confirmed the Commission's decision, and this appeal followed.

¶ 5 FACTS

¶ 6 The following factual recitation is taken from the evidence presented at the arbitration hearing on July 20, 2010. The 51-year-old claimant testified that she worked for the employer as a bus operator for approximately 3 years. While driving a bus on March 18, 2010, the claimant stopped at a red traffic light at approximately 1:30 p.m. Several passengers exited the bus through both a front door and back door. Several individuals got on the bus. The claimant saw that the traffic light had turned green and proceeded through the intersection. Shortly thereafter, a passenger yelled from the back of the bus that "somebody was chasing and hitting the bus and she thinks he was hit." The claimant stopped the bus. Upon exiting the bus, the claimant saw a person lying near the curb.

¶ 7 After reporting the accident to the employer, the claimant approached the individual. The claimant testified that a man lay in "almost a fetal position" with his mouth moving. The accident victim was removed from the scene by an ambulance. The claimant spoke with police officers and various supervisors employed by the employer. She was told the name of the accident victim. The claimant remained at the scene for approximately four hours.

¶ 8 Thereafter, the claimant was taken back to the employer's garage, where she prepared a written accident report. The claimant testified that, while she was at the employer's garage, she was told that the accident victim had died. The claimant recalled feeling "[s]haken" and "a little depressed." She testified that a supervisor saw that she was "shaken up" and referred her to "comp psych."

¶ 9 The claimant was removed from work pending a safety investigation. Following a hearing, the employer terminated the claimant effective April 28, 2010.

ΒΆ 10 After the accident, the claimant had flashbacks of the accident victim lying in the street and had difficulty sleeping. She did not seek professional help, attempting to cope with it herself, but her symptoms worsened. The claimant sought help through the employer but was told she ...


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