- Bachelor of Arts- English, 2000, Marquette University
- Graduate Diploma- International Law, 2002, University of Melbourne, Australia
- Juris Doctor 2003, Chicago Kent College of Law
- Admitted to Practice in Illinois and Federal Court 2003
- Defense of Workers’ Compensation Claims in Illinois
Significant Appellate Court Decisions
City of Chicago v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Ezra Townsend
Since 2002, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has held that trial starts with the taking of an evidence deposition based on the Commission decision Marks vs. Acme. The consequences of this rule were such that once a deposition has been taken, usually of a treating physician, no other medical evidence such as an independent medical examination, obtained following the deposition would be admissible at trial. In this case, the treating physician’s deposition was taken, and trial was not scheduled for over a year following the deposition. In the interim, the respondent, City of Chicago, obtained an independent medical examination pursuant to Section 12 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act in order to ascertain the nature, extent and probable duration of the petitioner’s disability. At trial, nearly a year later, when the report was offered into evidence, it was rejected by the arbitrator because it was obtained after the treating physician’s evidence deposition had been taken. The issue was appealed to the Appellate Court of Illinois, which found that the report was improperly excluded and that the rule that trial begins with an evidence deposition is contrary to Section 12 of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. The effect of this decision means that, even if depositions have been taken, parties may still gather medical evidence which may be admissible at trial.
Significant Arbitration Decisions
Ekdahl v. Maloney Equipment 09 WC 36756
The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission found that the petitioner’s condition and request for prospective medical benefits was not causally related to the accident. In this case, the petitioner was injured while working for the respondent when a tire blew up. The medical records indicated the petitioner had a long standing history of low back problems, and that the petitioner told his physicians that he injured his low back while lifting a 40 lb. bag of soil at home the day before the accident. The petitioner did not treat for many months after the accident, was eventually fired, and then filed a claim for benefits relating to his low back. The Commission found the petitioner not credible in light of the accident histories contained in the medical records as well as group insurance forms filled out by the petitioner shortly before he was terminated indicating he had no back problems. As such, all benefits were denied by the Commission.
Thomas Hunter v. City of Chicago 99 WC 62057
Petitioner was working as a building inspector for the City of Chicago when he fell down a rotting flight of stairs. The initial accident and injury were not in dispute, however the petitioner began excessive treatment for his low back and cervical spine. Multiple independent medical evaluations reported excessive symptom magnification and malingering. At the time of trial, the petitioner testified that he could barely move, that he had no muscle strength, and could not perform activities of daily living. He stated he could not raise his hands to swear to tell the truth at trial. On cross examination, the petitioner testified that despite his inability to move a muscle, he could walk several blocks, go grocery shopping, and drive up to 40 minutes at a time. The petitioner also spent the length of trial standing up and leaning his entire body weight on his arms. Petitioner claimed permanent and total disability. The arbitrator denied permanent total disability benefits, and the Commission affirmed, finding the petitioner not credible, and awarded 15% loss of use of a man as a whole.
Askew v. City of Chicago 06 WC 03469/ 12 IWCC 0592
The petitioner filed an 19(h) petition before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission alleging that his condition had materially worsened, and also alleged that he sustained an injury to a new body part, but that it was related to the original accident. The Commission denied benefits to the petitioner. First, regarding the petitioner’s request for increased permanency, the Commission found that the petitioner failed to prove that his condition had materially worsened. In denying benefits, the Commission noted that the petitioner was still working the same sedentary job he was working at the previous hearing, and that no additional restrictions had been placed on the petitioner. He also made nearly identical complaints regarding his activities of daily living in the 2011 hearing as in the 2008 hearing. As such, additional permanency was denied. Second, regarding the petitioner’s allegation that he injured a new body part, the Commission also denied benefits for this body part for several reasons. First, the petitioner did not complain about this body party during the initial 2008 hearing. As such, based on the “law of the case” doctrine, the petitioner was precluded from engaging in a new causation analysis, as all issues were previously tried. Second, even if the petitioner were able to bring forth allegations of injuring a new body part, the petitioner failed to prove that the condition was causally related to the accident in light of the fact that he did not treat for over four years following the accident. In so finding, the Commission determined that the opinions of the treating physician were not credible.
Fanny Kapusta v. Lawson Products (03 WC 06815)
This was an accepted foot case that was tried and a decision entered on March 27, 2008. The petitioner was awarded PPD for her foot and open medical benefits. On September 29, 2009, the petitioner filed an 8(a)/19(h) petition alleging that her condition had increased and she now was suffering pain in her hip as a result of her altered gait, however these allegations were not made until June 6, 2010. This matter continued to pend before the Commission, despite respondent’s multiple requests for a dismissal because the petitioner did not present evidence in support of her 8(a)/19(h) petition. On February 9, 2012, a hearing was held before Commissioner White on the respondent’s motion to dismiss the petitioner’s 8(a)/19(h) petition. Eventually, in October of 2012, the Commission issued an order dismissing the petitioner’s 8(a)/19(h) petition because they failed to prosecute same within a reasonable amount of time.