- Bachelor of Art- cum laude- Northern Illinois University, 1986
- Juris Doctor- Northern Illinois University School of Law, 1990
- Admitted to practice in Illinois in 1990
- Central Illinois Adjusters’ Association
- Greater Peoria Claims Adjusters’ Association
- Defense of Workers’ Compensation, Insurance Defense
- Third-Party Defense
Significant Arbitration/Commission Decisions
1. Mark D. Keen v. Mt. Vernon (12 IWCC 633)
Petitioner alleged an injury to his right shoulder as a result of lifting, pulling, tying bundles of newspapers, and operating a forklift pallet jack. The Arbitrator found that Petitioner failed to prove proper notice and accident and denied the claim for benefits. The Arbitrator relied on Petitioner’s testimony that he was not sure when he injured his right shoulder at work. The Arbitrator also noted that the medical evidence did not support the alleged injury to the right shoulder. It was also noted by the Arbitrator that Petitioner’s supervisor testified that Petitioner told him that Petitioner injured his right shoulder while moving a refrigerator at home. Finally, the Arbitrator noted that Petitioner never offered any evidence or testimony that he notified the employer of his work accident until almost 13 months after the alleged accident. On review to the Commission, the Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.
2. Charles Meade v. Hayworth School CUSD #4 (11 IWCC 1090)
Petitioner claimed his duties as a school custodian caused a left trigger finger which required a surgical release. Petitioner testified as to the various job duties he performed and the equipment he operated. The treating surgeon testified that it was possible Petitioner’s job duties aggravated a pre-existing condition. On cross-examination, the treating surgeon could not state that is was more likely than not that the job duties aggravated the trigger-finger condition. The employer’s examining doctor testified that Petitioner’s job duties did not meet the NIOSH criteria for causing a cumulative trauma disorder, such as, trigger-finger. The examining doctor noted that Petitioner’s job tasks were varied, that he was not exposed to significant vibration, the force requirements for the job were very minimal, there were no awkward hand or wrist postures, and there was no constant pressure on the volar surface of the wrist more than two-thirds of the work day. On cross-examination, Petitioner testified that prior to beginning his employment as a school custodian, he worked over 20 years at Commonwealth Edison using pneumatic tools and performing pipe fitting. The Arbitrator found that Petitioner did not meet his burden of proof. The Arbitrator also specifically found that the treating surgeon’s testimony that it was only a possibility that Petitioner’s job duties aggravated his trigger-finger was insufficient to prove accident or causal connection. Upon review to the Commission, the Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.
3. Rea Helton v. Addus Healthcare (10 IWCC 1263)
Petitioner alleged an injury to her left knee when she slipped down a flight of stairs. The employer did not dispute accident, but disputed that the knee condition was causally connected to the accident. The initial treating records did not reveal any complaints regarding the knee. It was not until almost three months after the accident that Petitioner began complaining and seeking treatment for the knee. On cross-examination, the treating surgeon admitted that causation is questionable due to Petitioner not complaining of or treating for a knee condition sooner then she did. The examining physician testified that it was not likely that the mechanism of injury would cause or even aggravate a knee condition. Based on the evidence, the Arbitrator denied any benefits related to the left knee. Upon review to the Commission, the Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.
4. Margie Parker v SBC Ameritech (08 IWCC 1332)
Petitioner alleged bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of her job as a directory assistance operator. The Commission found that Petitioner failed to prove that her work duties caused or contributed to the development of carpal tunnel syndrome. Specifically, the Commission stated that both the testimony of Petitioner and the opinion of the treating doctor were insufficient to prove a work related accident. The Commission also noted that diabetes, which Petitioner had, is a causative factor of carpal tunnel syndrome.
5. Brittany Starling v Funnybone (08 IWCC 801)
Petitioner claimed an injury to her knee which occurred when she struck the knee on a chair while working as a cocktail waitress. She sought authorization for knee surgery and payment of TTD. The arbitrator denied all benefits and dismissed the case finding that Petitioner failed to prove an accident occurred in the course of and arising out of her employment with Respondent. The arbitrator found the testimony of the manager that he was not told of a work related injury until almost a month after the alleged date of accident to be more credible than Petitioner’s version of how the accident occurred and what she told the manager. Petitioner did not seek treatment with a medical doctor until almost one month after the accident allegedly occurred all the while continuing to work full duty and hold another job at a different establishment. Upon review to the Commission, the Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.
6. Joyce A. Lawlyes v Walgreens ( 07 IWCC 1224 )
Petitioner, 70 years old, worked as an office clerk in Walgreens’ business office. As she was entering the building coming to work on a snowy day, she fell and suffered a torn rotator cuff in the right shoulder which necessitated arthroscopic repair. Petitioner testified at hearing that she fell while she was scuffling her feet to remove sand from the soles of her snow boots. It was not disputed that sand was spread on the parking lot after snowfalls. However, when Petitioner reported the fall to her supervisor, she never mentioned having sand on her boots, only mentioning that she had new snow boots that she was wearing for the first time and the treads of her boots caught on the carpet when she entered the building. Likewise, she never mentioned sand when her recorded statement was taken by the insurance adjuster less than a month after her fall. The arbitrator denied all benefits finding that Petitioner did not have an accident arising out of her employment. The arbitrator relied on the lack of any mention of sand being on her boots when she initially reported the accident and during the recorded statement. In the absence of any defect in the floor or sand on her boots, the fall was not a risk related to her employment. On review, a majority of the Commission review panel affirmed the arbitration decision. The dissenting Commissioner, Dauphin, believed Petitioner’s testimony that she was trying to get sand off her boots at the time of her fall despite her initial report of the accident and the recorded statement which failed to mention the presence of sand.
7. Adrian Granados v Interlake, Inc 07 IWCC 600, (08IWCC507)
Petitioner, 49 years old, injured his lumbar spine while working as a welder for Respondent. Despite never having surgery, all doctors agreed that Petitioner was not be able to return back to work as a welder due to physical restrictions. Respondent offered a different job to Petitioner within his restrictions. However, after only working the new job for only 2-3 hours, Petitioner went to an emergency room claiming severe back pain. At hearing, Petitioner argued he was permanently totally disabled under Section 8(e) of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act due to the restrictions, his education (high school), and his claim that he was not fluent in English with Spanish being his native language. The arbitrator found that Petitioner was not permanently totally disabled as Respondent had a bona fide job alternative for him. The Commission on review agreed and further found that Petitioner did not attempt to find alternate employment on his own. The Commission did increase the award of permanency pursuant to Section 8(d)(2). Subsequently, Petitioner filed a petition under Section 8(a) for authorization for additional diagnostic tests to be performed to determine whether Petitioner had become a surgical candidate since the arbitration decision. The Commission denied the petition finding that Petitioner had failed to show that there was a change in his condition to warrant the diagnostic testing. Specifically, the Commission found that Petitioner has failed to show that the need, if any, for the additional testing is related to the work injury, as opposed to, the natural degenerative process of the underlying condition.
8. Brenda J. Hill v Lincoln Land Oil Co (06IWCC1141)
Petitioner incurred a neck injury while working as a gas station attendant. The arbitrator found an intervening incident of lifting a heavy pot while cooking at home which was mentioned to an emergency room physician by a family member. Based on the intervening incident, the arbitrator denied subsequent lost time benefits and medical expenses. The finding of an intervening incident also mitigated the employer’s liability for permanent partial disability benefits. Upon review to the Commission, the Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.
9. Bing Gossett vs. ITW/Signode (01 IIC 12)
Petitioner alleged that pre-existing arthritis in both hips and his right knee was aggravated by his work as a machine operator. Petitioner had bilateral total hip replacement and a total right knee replacement. Petitioner asserted that he was permanently and totally disabled from working as a machine operator due to the condition of his hips and right knee. At the time of the alleged aggravation, petitioner was 52 years old. The Arbitrator found that petitioner failed to prove that he suffered an injury which arose out of and in the course of his employment. The Arbitrator relied on a 20 year history of prior arthritic problems throughout his body, including fingers. The Arbitrator also found that petitioner’s testimony in which he frequently lifted 100 pound coils of steel was not credible. The Arbitrator denied all forms of compensation. Upon review to the Commission, the Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.