Court of Appeals of Illinois, Third District, Workers' Compensation Commission Division
from Circuit Court of Peoria County No. 14MR833 Honorable
James Mack, Judge Presiding.
JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with
opinion. Justices Hoffman and Stewart concurred in the
judgment and opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge specially
concurred, with opinion, joined by Justice Hudson.
1 Claimant, Joan Anderson, filed an application for
adjustment of claim pursuant to the Workers' Compensation
Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 to 30 (West 2008)), alleging she
sustained injuries to her right hand and thumb and seeking
benefits from the employer, Steak 'n Shake. Following a
hearing, the arbitrator found that claimant sustained
accidental injuries to her right hand that were causally
related to her employment on May 30, 2008. The arbitrator
awarded claimant (1) 152-3/7 weeks' temporary total
disability (TTD) benefits (June 11, 2008, through January 18,
2010, and February 15, 2010, through June 9, 2011); (2)
reasonable and necessary medical expenses excluding a single
billing which was denied based upon evidentiary issues; and
(3) 112-5/7 weeks' permanent partial disability (PPD)
benefits, representing a 55% loss of use of claimant's
2 On review, the Illinois Workers' Compensation
Commission (Commission) modified the arbitrator's
decision by reducing her TTD award and ordering the employer
to pay claimant 128-6/7 weeks' TTD benefits (June 11,
2008, through January 18, 2010, and February 15, 2010,
through December 24, 2010). It otherwise affirmed and adopted
the arbitrator's decision. On judicial review, the
circuit court of Peoria County confirmed the Commission's
decision. The employer appeals.
3 I. BACKGROUND
4 The following factual recitation is taken from the evidence
presented at the arbitration hearing conducted on October 24
and 29, 2013.
5 The employer operates a chain of casual fast food
restaurants. In March 2004, claimant began working for the
employer as a waitress. On the date of her alleged accident,
May 30, 2008, her position with the employer was best
described as waitress/trainer/manager. Claimant testified
that, on that date, the restaurant was very busy and she was
trying to keep the dining room cleaned up to keep the flow of
customers moving as quickly as possible. Although she was a
manager of that shift, she started bussing tables and
carrying tubs of dirty dishes out of the dining room to help
keep the customer flow moving. Claimant testified they were
"busy as all get out." Further, she testified that
she was moving very swiftly, and, as she was wiping down a
table, she felt and heard a loud "pop" in her right
hand. Claimant testified she immediately felt an excruciating
pain (like she had never felt before) that began in her thumb
and shot all the way across her hand. She stated, prior to
that moment, she had never experienced any pain in her right
hand and had never treated for pain to her right hand or any
joints in her body.
6 Claimant testified she immediately informed one of the
other managers on duty about the accident. The next day, she
informed the appropriate district manager. This testimony was
7 After going home, claimant sought an appointment with her
primary care physician. However, because she could not be
seen that day, she obtained an appointment with her
husband's physician, Dr. Daniel Hoffman.
8 Dr. Hoffman's treatment notes establish that claimant
presented with symptoms of right hand swelling. He noted
tenderness and swelling over the dorsal aspect of the right
hand. Dr. Hoffman diagnosed a soft tissue injury, prescribed
pain medication, and referred claimant to Dr. Jeffrey Traina,
an orthopedic specialist.
9 On June 11, 2008, claimant was examined by Dr. Traina. She
gave a history of cleaning a table while at work and
experiencing sudden and intense pain in her right hand. A
physical examination revealed tenderness at the base of the
second metacarpal, localized swelling in the same area, and
otherwise normal symptoms. Dr. Traina gave an initial
impression of edema with pain over the second metacarpal
suggestive of overuse. He ordered claimant off work,
prescribed a wrist brace and anti-inflammatory medication,
and ordered her to return in 10 days.
10 On June 23, 2008, claimant followed up with Dr. Traina,
who observed that claimant's symptoms had improved, but
still remained. He continued his order that claimant remain
off work, and ordered her to follow up with him in three
11 On July 24, 2008, Dr. Traina ordered a magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI) scan, the results of which he read to show a
mild chronic injury to the base of the first metacarpal joint
(i.e., the thumb), with some evidence of
degenerative changes in the same area. Following the MRI, Dr.
Traina allowed claimant to return to work with a restriction
of not using her right hand, prescribed physical therapy, and
continued anti-inflammatory medication and the use of a hand
12 On August 12, 2008, claimant was again examined by Dr.
Traina. She reported continued symptoms of right hand and
thumb pain. Dr. Traina ordered continued physical therapy,
continued use of a hand brace, and anti-inflammatories.
13 From August until October 13, 2008, Dr. Traina ordered a
series of treatments, including a special thumb brace and
cortisone injections, all of which were reported to be
unsuccessful in relieving claimant's symptoms. At that
point, Dr. Traina referred claimant to a hand surgeon.
14 The next recorded treatment for claimant occurred on June
29, 2009, approximately eight months after her last
appointment with Dr. Traina, when claimant returned to Dr.
Hoffman. Claimant reported continuing pain in her right hand
and thumb. Dr. Hoffman observed swelling and tenderness. He
diagnosed possible tendonitis and advised claimant to remain
off work and to follow up with Dr. Traina.
15 The record contains a treatment report indicating that, on
August 31, 2009, claim- ant sought treatment from her primary
care provider, Nurse Practitioner Debbie Hayes. The record
also established that Nurse Hayes referred claimant to Dr.
James Williams, an orthopedic hand surgeon at Midwest
16 On October 22, 2009, claimant was examined by Dr.
Williams. She gave a history of pain after wiping tables at
work in May 2008. After reviewing all medical treatment
records, Dr. Williams recommended a right thumb joint