Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Workers' Compensation Commission Division
Rehearing denied January 26, 2017
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Nos. 13-L-50026,
13-L-50029; the Hon. Robert Lopez Cepero, Judge, presiding.
Reversed in part and vacated in part; original Commission
Schechter and Larry Coven, both of Coven Law Group, of
Chicago, for appellant.
Christopher L. Jarchow, of Hennessy & Roach, P.C., of
Chicago, for appellee.
JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Hoffman and Hudson concurred in the
judgment and opinion. Presiding Justice
1 In April 2008, claimant, Terry Noonan, filed an application
for adjustment of claim pursuant to the Workers'
Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 to 30 (West 2006)),
alleging he sustained a work-related injury to his right
wrist on March 31, 2008, and seeking benefits from the
employer, the City of Chicago. Following a hearing, the
arbitrator determined claimant failed to prove that he
sustained an injury arising out of his employment and denied
him benefits. The Illinois Workers' Compensation
Commission (Commission) affirmed and adopted the
arbitrator's decision; however, on judicial review, the
circuit court of Cook County reversed and remanded to the
Commission for an award of benefits to claimant.
2 On remand, the Commission, again, affirmed and adopted the
arbitrator's denial of benefits. It also provided a more
detailed explanation of its decision. On review, the circuit
court entered an order finding its previous order "was
in error" and the Commission's initial decision
should have been confirmed. The court held its previous
remand order was "of no consequence." Claimant
filed a motion to reconsider the court's decision, which
the court denied. He now appeals, arguing the
Commission's finding that he failed to prove he sustained
an injury arising out of his employment and its denial of
benefits was against the manifest weight of the evidence. We
reverse in part, vacate in part, and reinstate the
Commission's original decision.
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 At arbitration, claimant testified he initially worked for
the employer as a "motor truck driver." However, he
sustained a work-related injury to his back that resulted in
permanent restrictions and rendered him unable to perform the
job duties for that position. Approximately three months
prior to the accidental injury at issue on appeal, claimant
began working for the employer as a "clerk." He
testified the duties associated with that position included
filling out forms called "truck driver sheets" and
answering the phone when no one else was available. It took
him approximately five minutes to fill out each form, and he
typically worked each day from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
5 Claimant asserted that on March 31, 2008, he was injured
while working for the employer as a clerk. He described the
incident resulting in his injury as follows:
"I was filling out a truck sheet and I made a mistake. I
got out of my chair, grabbed another sheet, sat down, and I
believe when I sat down, I put my elbow on the desk, knocked
the pen off, pen fell to my right. So I put my left hand on
top of the desk, and I'm sitting in a chair just like
[the court reporter] here, and when I went and reached to my
right, I didn't know that the chair got up on its wheel.
So[, ] just as I was maybe about two inches or [an] inch from
picking the pen up off the floor, the chair went out from
underneath me. I stuck my right hand out to brace my
testified his right hand came into contact with the floor and
"it felt like [he] jammed it." He felt pain and
ultimately sought and received medical treatment, including
surgery, for an injury to his right wrist.
6 On cross-examination, claimant denied that the rolling
chair he had been sitting in had been positioned on a slope
or a slant. He stated he "went over sideways to [his]
right" when attempting to retrieve the pen he dropped,
noting he could not bend forward because he had undergone
disk replacement surgery. Further, he stated he thought the
incident involved an ordinary fall.
7 On April 20, 2012, the arbitrator issued a decision,
finding claimant failed to prove his right wrist injury arose
out of his employment and denying him benefits under the Act.
Specifically, the arbitrator determined claimant "failed
to prove that the simple act of sitting in a rolling chair
and reaching for a pen exposed him to an increased risk of
injury that was beyond what members of the general public are
regularly exposed to." On December 26, 2012, the
Commission affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision
without further comment. Claimant appealed, and on March 14,
2014, the circuit court entered an order reversing the
Commission's decision based on its "arising out
of" analysis and remanding the matter for an award of
benefits to claimant.
8 On December 26, 2014, the Commission issued a decision and
opinion on remand. It persisted in affirming and adopting the
arbitrator's denial of benefits but provided additional
reasoning for its finding that claimant failed to prove that
his right wrist injury arose out of his employment. Again,
claimant sought judicial review. On March 12, 2015, the
circuit court ordered as follows:
"A. The [circuit court's] Order of March 14, 2014[,
] was in error. The Commission's decision should ...