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Sysco Food Service of Chicago v. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Workers' Compensation Commission Division

December 22, 2017

SYSCO FOOD SERVICE OF CHICAGO, Appellant,
v.
THE ILLINOIS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION et al., Michael Donohue, Appelle.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County Nos. 12 L 51452 14 L 50862 14 L 50908 16 L 50296 16 L 50303 Honorable Robert Lopez Cepero and James M. McGing, Judges, Presiding.

          JUSTICE HOFFMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge and Justices Hudson, Harris, and Overstreet concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          HOFFMAN, JUSTICE.

         ¶ 1 Sysco Food Services of Chicago (Sysco) appeals from an order of the circuit court of Cook County which reversed an October 24, 2012, decision of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission), awarding the claimant, Michael Donohue, inter alia, permanent partial disability benefits under section 8(d)2 of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/8(d)2 (West 2010)) for a torn meniscus in his left knee but denying the claimant benefits for the degenerative condition of his left knee, and remanded the matter back to the Commission with directions to award the claimant wage differential benefits under section 8(d)1 of the Act (820 ILCS 305/8(d)1 (West 2010)). Sysco also appeals from the Commission's decisions following remand and the circuit court's orders entered following the Commission's decisions on remand. For the reasons which follow, we: reverse the circuit court's order of December 23, 2013, which reversed the Commission's original decision of October 24, 2012; vacate the Commission's decisions of October 28, 2014, and April 15, 2016, entered following remand from the circuit court; vacate the circuit court's orders of August 10, 2015, and February 16, 2017, entered following the Commission's decisions on remand; and reinstate the Commission's original decision of October 24, 2012.

         ¶ 2 The following factual recitation is taken from the evidence adduced at the arbitration hearing held on September 7, 2011, and November 4, 2011.

         ¶ 3 At all times relevant, the claimant was employed by Sysco as a delivery driver. His duties included delivering food products to customers by truck and unloading the products from the truck using a two-wheeled dolly and a ramp. The claimant testified that, on November 6, 2009, as he was maneuvering a load of food products inside of his truck, he fell out of the back of the truck and landed on both knees.

         ¶ 4 On November 12, 2009, the claimant sought medical treatment from Dr. Quinn Regan at the Illinois Bone and Joint institute. Following his examination of the claimant, Dr. Regan diagnosed left knee pain and contusions following a slip and fall.

         ¶ 5 After again examining the claimant on November 19, 2009, Dr. Regan recorded an impression of very mild joint line narrowing of the left knee, possibly meniscal pathology and possible left knee contusion. Dr. Regan administered a Cortisone shot to the claimant's left knee.

         ¶ 6 When Dr. Regan examined the claimant's left knee on December 7, 2009, he noted no effusion and a range of motion from 0 to 135 degrees. He again administered a Cortisone shot to the claimant's left knee and recommended that the claimant have an MRI scan of his left knee.

         ¶ 7 The claimant underwent the recommended MRI on December 28, 2009. The scan revealed bone marrow edema of the medial aspect of the femoral condyle and tibial plateau, consistent with a contusion; a tear at the posterior horn of the medial meniscus; small joint effusion; and a soft tissue contusion at the medial aspect of the knee.

         ¶ 8 Dr. Regan's notes of a visit on January 4, 2010, state that he reviewed the MRI and diagnosed left knee pain and internal derangement, secondary to a meniscal tear and bone bruise. Dr. Regan recommended that the claimant have surgery to repair the meniscal tear.

         ¶ 9 On January 20, 2010, the claimant underwent surgery to repair the meniscal tear in his left knee. Dr. Regan's postoperative diagnosis was a medial meniscal tear in the posterior horn of the claimant's left knee with chondromalacia of the medial femoral condyle.

         ¶ 10 When he examined the claimant on January 28, 2010, Dr. Regan noted that the claimant's pain had improved and his surgical wound was progressing nicely. Dr. Regan recorded his intention to see the claimant in about three weeks with a view to returning him to work at that time.

         ¶ 11 According to the claimant, he remained off of work following surgery until he was given a full duty release by Dr. Regan. He returned to work at Sysco on February 22, 2010.

         ¶ 12 On March 29, 2010, the claimant presented to Dr. Regan complaining of significant pain in his left knee. On examination, Dr. Regan noted swelling of the claimant's left knee "2 effusion" and flexion to 90 degrees. Dr. Regan aspirated the claimant's left knee and administered a Celestone shot. As of that visit, Dr. Regan noted his impression of "status post knee arthroscopy with an effusion for overuse" and authorized the claimant to remain off of work.

         ¶ 13 When the claimant saw Dr. Regan on April 1, 2010, he reported a flare-up of his left knee symptoms after twisting his knee a week earlier. Dr. Regan recommended that the claimant remain off of work.

         ¶ 14 When the claimant saw Dr. Regan on April 12, 2010, he complained of left knee pain. On examination of the claimant's left knee, Dr. Regan found no erythema, no redness, no numbness, no effusion, and a range of motion from 0 to 90 degrees. In his notes of that visit, Dr. Regan ...


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