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Tom Cronin
Hennessy & Roach
Chicago
partner
  • Indiana University, B.A. with Honors; Phi Beta Kappa
  • Chicago-Kent College of Law, J.D. 1994 with honors

Practice Areas:

  • Defense of Workers Compensation claims in Illinois

Significant Decisions:

  1. Rolando Velazquez v. Southwest Airlines 15 WC 032289.

Petitioner was a ramp employee who alleged that he injured his right foot while stepping off of a tug used to pull luggage.  He testified at trial that while stepping out of the tug, he stepped onto concrete and a drain which caused his right foot to roll over.  He was diagnosed with a foot fracture.  We denied accident and our defense focused on Petitioner’s initial histories which indicated that he injured himself while stepping onto the tug.  Cross-examination established that he never slipped, tripped or twisted while getting onto the tug.  We argued that the act of stepping on and off of the tug did not represent an increased risk.  The Arbitrator found that the Petitioner was not credible and relied upon the contemporaneous medical records.  He found that the risk of stepping onto the tug was no different than the act of climbing stairs or stepping into a personal vehicle.  As such, the Arbitrator found no increased risk and found that the Petitioner did not suffer a compensable accident.

 2.  George Kendzior v. Guardian Security 10 WC 004794

Petitioner was employed as a security guard when he alleged that a truck tractor backed into him knocking him onto his left side.  At trial, he claimed that he fell into the legs of the trailer and when he attempted to get up he slipped on ice which caused him to fall again.  He also testified that he had rolled one or two times and ended up on his left side.  We did not deny that the Petitioner was struck by the truck, but did deny Petitioner’s history as presented at trial.  We relied upon the contemporaneous histories provided in the emergency room records which confirmed that the Petitioner had not been run over by the tractor, and made limited complaints.  The emergency room records further stated that he was struck at a low speed and claimed that he did not lose consciousness, did not strike his head and had no neck pain.

The treating physician recommended shoulder surgery be performed.  Petitioner also was advised to have cervical surgery.  Petitioner’s orthopedic surgeon admitted on cross-examination that if the history provided by the Petitioner was inaccurate, that his causal opinions could change.  The Arbitrator found that Petitioner was not credible and relied upon the contemporaneous records.  Based upon those contemporaneous records, he also found that Petitioner did not present a viable causal opinion since the history relied upon by the treating physician was not credible.  The Arbitrator found that none of Petitioner’s complaints at the time of trial were related, that the surgeries being recommended were not causally related, and awarded Petitioner the emergency room bill only.  The Commission and Circuit Court affirmed.

  1. Dorothy Sutkowski v. Walt’s Food Centers 09 WC 47851;49764

The Petitioner was employed in the deli and alleged that she had suffered carpal tunnel due to repetitive trauma.  She also alleged a specific accident that while working in the deli she slipped on chicken grease falling onto her right side, right arm and right shoulder.  She testified that her right arm pushed all the way back into her right shoulder.  The fall was confirmed by internal surveillance so the accident was accepted.  However, we denied a causal relationship between the accident and Petitioner’s carpal tunnel, right shoulder, and cervical surgeries.  Our defense focused on Petitioner’s significant past medical history which included complaints to all of those body parts.  We also relied upon the opinions of an IME who testified that the conditions were unrelated to the fall.  Further, we attacked Petitioner’s credibility and the history she provided to her treating physicians.  Those physicians all relied upon the fact that the complaints to her cervical spine, right shoulder and right arm did not begin until the date of accident.  Those doctors admitted that if Petitioner’s history was inaccurate, their causal opinions could change.  Based upon the evidence, the Arbitrator found that the carpal tunnel surgery, cervical surgery and right shoulder surgery were unrelated to the fall.  As a result, no benefits were awarded because Petitioner failed to prove a causal connection existed between any of her medical conditions.  The Commission, Circuit Court and Appellate Court affirmed,

  1. Amy Kehl v. Plainfield Community School District 202 08 WC 14522

Petitioner was employed as a special education teacher’s aide who alleged that she injured her cervical spine while attempting to prevent a boy from falling.  She testified that she noted immediate pain in her left shoulder, cervical spine and right elbow.  Petitioner eventually underwent a cervical fusion at C6-7.  She had a follow-up surgery a year later, extending that fusion to C3-We were able to present testimony that the Petitioner did not make any report of the injury unit January 2008.  We also demonstrated that Petitioner had significant past medical history, including two prior cervical surgeries and that she had continued treating with a chiropractor for cervical complaints through the date of accident.  The records also demonstrated that in her first chiropractic visit after the accident, she made no report of the alleged incident.  Finally, we were able to demonstrate that her prior cervical herniations occurred without incident and were determined to be spontaneous.  The Arbitrator did not award the Petitioner any benefits because he found that the Petitioner failed to prove that a causal connection existed between her herniated discs at C6-7 and C3-4 and the work-related incident.  The decision was affirmed by the Commission.

  1. Paulette Smith v. University of Chicago Hospitals  07 IWCC 0449

Petitioner was a nurse who suffered a herniated disc on the job.  Petitioner was placed under a permanent 10-pound restriction because she did not want to proceed with surgery.  Petitioner claimed that she was unable to find employment within her restrictions and, as a result, she was permanently and totally disabled.  We produced vocational evidence and testimony to demonstrate that Petitioner had not conducted a good faith job search and had sabotaged the vocational process.  The arbitrator found that Petitioner had sabotaged the vocational process and found that she was only entitled to a person as a whole award based upon an unoperated herniated disc with restrictions.  The Commission affirmed.

  1. Gwendolyn Smith v. University of Chicago Hospitals 06 WC 51232

Petitioner was employed as a security guard and testified that she was injured while pursuing a suspicious individual.  While following this person, Petitioner slipped on a stairway and injured her low back.  We denied the accident because we did not believe there was an increased risk.  We relied upon contemporaneous medical histories indicating that Petitioner had simply missed a step while descending the stairs.  We also provided testimony to demonstrate that that Petitioner made no report of any suspicious individuals on the date of accident and provided logs to confirm that Petitioner was not sent on any calls.  The Arbitrator found the contemporaneous histories to be most persuasive.  Based upon those histories, the Arbitrator found that Petitioner had failed to prove accident since there was no credible evidence of an increased risk.  The mere act of walking up or down stairs is not, by itself, an increased risk.

  1. Enrique Billups v. University of Chicago Hospitals, 05 WC 0199

Petitioner alleged that she suffered a herniated disc and aggravation of her degenerative disc disease which required surgery and permanent restrictions as a result of washing windows for Respondent on a specific date.  Evidence was produced which revealed that Petitioner did not report an accident until 10 days after the alleged incident.  When she did report it, she admitted that she did not feel any pain on the alleged date of accident.  Other histories revealed that Petitioner noted a gradual onset of pain.  During cross-examination, Petitioner’s treating surgeon admitted that his causal opinion was based upon a specific trauma and further admitted that if there were no pain on the date of accident he could not give a causal opinion.  The arbitrator denied compensation and held that Petitioner failed to prove that she was injured in an accident that arose out of and in the course of her employment with Respondent.

  1. Scott Anselmo v. National Manufacturing 03 WC 6831

Petitioner injured his back while lifting a steel form from waist height.  He was diagnosed with a large disc herniation at L4-5.  Approximately 9 months after his release from care he sought additional treatment because while dressing at home, he felt sudden intense back pain while dressing at home.  He was diagnosed with a herniation at the same level and surgery was performed resulting in permanent work restrictions.  Petitioner claimed this was related to the original work injury. We introduced medical evidence and testimony to demonstrate that the act of dressing was a competent cause of a re-herniation and was sufficient to break the causal connection chain.  We produced witness testimony to demonstrate that Petitioner had not made any complaints in the 9 months between his release from care and the subsequent event. We also provided evidence to attack Petitioner’s credibility.  The Arbitrator found the later herniation, surgery and permanent restrictions were not causally related to the accepted work incident.

  1. Lisa Robbins v. National Manufacturing Co.  02 WC 42118.

Petitioner, a 36-year-old machine operator, claimed that she suffered a herniated disc either as a result of a specific injury or, in the alternative, as a result of cumulative trauma from years of working as a machine operator.  Petitioner’s supervisor testified that Petitioner told him the injury had occurred outside of work.  First aid employee testified that Petitioner also told her that back pain was not work related.  The arbitrator rejected Petitioner’s later histories that she had a sudden onset of pain while at work and denied compensation because Petitioner failed to prove that she was injured in an accident that arose out of and in the course of her employment.  The arbitrator also found that Petitioner failed to prove that she suffered a compensable cumulative injury.

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