Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Workers' Compensation Commission Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. Circuit No.
14-L-50114. Honorable Robert Lopez Cepero, Judge, Presiding.
APPELLANT(s): Nicholas A. Rubino, William B. Meyers &
Associates, Chicago, IL.
APPELLEE(s): Stephen R. Patton, Corporation Counsel of the
City of Chicago, Chicago, IL.
Hudson, Harris, and Stewart, Justices concurred in the
judgment and opinion.
HOLDRIDGE, PRESIDING JUSTICE.
[¶1] The claimant, Stanford Dorsey, filed an
application for adjustment of claim under the Workers'
Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West
2008)), seeking benefits for injuries to his left arm
allegedly sustained while employed as a street light
maintenance electrician for the City of Chicago (employer).
Following a hearing, the arbitrator found that the
claimant's injuries resulted in a 17% loss of the
person-as-a-whole under section 8(d)(2) of the Act. 820 ILCS
305/8(d)(2) (West 2008). The employer sought review of the
arbitrator's award before the Illinois Workers'
Compensation Commission (Commission), which modified the
award, finding that the claimant's injury to his left arm
was compensable as a scheduled injury under section 8(e) of
the Act. 820 ILCS 305/8(e) (West 2008). The Commission
awarded the claimant a sum equal to the loss of 37.5% of the
use of the left arm. The Commission further held that the
employer was entitled to a credit for a payment made in 1998,
pursuant to a settlement, to compensate for a 30% loss of use
of that same arm. The claimant sought judicial review of the
Commission's decision before the circuit court of Cook
County, which confirmed the Commission's decision. The
claimant then filed this timely appeal.
[¶2] The claimant raises the following
issues on appeal: (1) whether the Commission's award of
compensation for the loss of the use of the arm under section
8(e) of the Act rather the loss of the use of the
person-as-a-whole under section 8(d)(2) was against the
manifest weight of the evidence; and (2) whether the
Commission erred in granting a credit to the employer for
payments made pursuant to a prior settlement agreement.
[¶4] The following factual recitation is
taken from the evidence presented at the arbitration hearing
conducted on April 23, 2013.
[¶5] The claimant testified that he had been
employed as an electrician by the employer for approximately
24 years. On February 8, 2010, he was working with his crew
on street lights that were not functioning. It was determined
that they would need to lift a manhole cover to access the
electrical circuits. The claimant estimated that the manhole
cover weighed approximately 350 to 400 pounds. The claimant
and a coworker attempted to lift the manhole cover together,
but they lost their balance while doing so. In his struggle
not to fall while holding up his end of the manhole cover,
the claimant felt an immediate pain in his left arm. The pain
caused him to drop the manhole cover.
[¶6] The claimant sought immediate medical
attention at Mercy Works Hospital. The claimant reported that
he could not flex his left elbow and had tenderness in left
forearm. An MRI revealed a complete disruption (rupture) of
the distal biceps tendon, which is located just beneath the
elbow. The treatment records noted " left elbow
strain." There was no documented complaint of shoulder
pain. The attending physician referred the claimant to Dr.
William Hellar at the Woodland Orthopedic Center.
[¶7] On February 12, 2010, the claimant was
examined by Dr. Heller, a board certified orthopedic surgeon.
Dr. Heller diagnosed ruptured distal bicep tendon and
informed the claimant of the need for surgery to repair the
[¶8] On February 15, 2010, Dr. Heller
performed surgery to repair the tendon rupture and
corresponding radial nerve neurolysis. The tendon repair
required a debridement of the bicep tendon preparatory to
reattachment of the tendon to the bone. The procedure further
required surgical drilling into the bone near the elbow joint
to anchor the tendon back to the bone with a 7 millimeter
screw and anchor system. Following surgery, the claimant
underwent a course of physical therapy and work hardening at
Mercy Works and at Chatham Hand Rehabilitation Services in
Chicago. The claimant's postoperative treatment and
physical therapy records reflect the primary pain location as
the left elbow, with no mention shoulder pain.
[¶9] On September 17, 2010, the claimant was
released to full duty with no work restrictions. He returned
to his former job with the employer with the same duties and
responsibilities and the same rate of pay. The claimant
testified that at the time he returned to work his left arm
was not as strong as his right, nor was it as strong as prior
to the accident. He testified that after he returned to work,
he was able to perform all tasks assigned to him; however, he
was still experiencing pain in his left arm. He routinely
took Ibuprofen for the pain. He further testified that he