- Bachelor of Arts – English & Philosophy 1987, Marquette University (Varsity Track)
- Master of Science – Public Policy 1991, DePaul University
- Juris Doctor 1995, The John Marshall Law School (Executive Editor, John Marshall Journal of Computer and Information Law)
- Workers’ Compensation Lawyers Association
- Advocates Society
- Illinois State Bar Association
- Greater Peoria Claims Association
- Defense of Workers’ Compensation claims
- Union League Club of Chicago – Second Vice President
Significant Arbitration/Commission Decisions
1. Lewis v. ANR Advance Transportation
Petitioner was employed as a City Driver and alleged that he dropped a box on his left foot sustaining a fracture to the left great toe. Petitioner lost six weeks from work and sustained numerous medical bills. Petitioner presented to an emergency room on the date of accident. Although the accident was unwitnessed, Respondent denied compensation. At arbitration, Petitioner testified that he was injured during the course of his employment. Respondent admitted into evidence the emergency room records where the doctor noted that Petitioner’s hemitoma was yellow and green in color thus indicating an accident that was at least ten days old. The evidence indicated that Petitioner’s accident could not have occurred as reported so the Arbitrator denied compensation.
2. Ragsdale v. Power Construction
Petitioner alleged that she was injured during the course of her employment as a carpenter when she was handing a board to another employee and noticed pain in her chest and back. Petitioner began to lose time from work and began treating with several doctors including a chiropractor. Even though compensability was disputed, Respondent offered $125,000.00 to settle. Petitioner refused stating that she was permanently and totally disabled and demanded $250,000.00. At trial Petitioner presented the testimony of her vocational rehabilitation specialist who on cross-examination admitted that Petitioner was capable of working. Petitioner also presented the testimony of her chiropractor whose bill exceeded $40,000.00. On direct examination, the chiropractor testified that he first treated Petitioner after the accident at issue. He also testified that his bills were reasonable and necessary. On cross-examination the doctor was confronted with records which proved that he had, in fact, treated Petitioner for a car accident prior to the accident at issue. Ultimately, the Arbitrator denied compensation in its entirety. The Industrial Commission reversed the Arbitrator in part stating that the accident occurred but also denied TTD and medical. The Circuit Court affirmed the Commission in part but remanded the case to the Industrial Commission for further hearings in order to determine whether Petitioner is entitled to a wage differential under section 8(d)1. Mr. Maras has since left the firm for whom he worked at the time this case was defended. Further litigation is being handled by that firm.
3. Blazic v. Merrill Lynch
Petitioner alleged that she sustained bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome as a result of her employment as an administrative assistant. On direct examination, Petitioner alleged that the repeated tasks of her employment caused her symptoms and that she reported her complaints to her supervisor. On cross-examination, Petitioner provided the name of the person to whom she allegedly reported her complaints. She also admitted that her claim not filed until she had already filed an age discrimination suit against Respondent. During a recess, Respondent’s counsel located the supervisor to whom Petitioner allegedly reported her condition. The individual denied receiving notice. Later, she appeared and provided compelling testimony. The Arbitrator denied benefits on the basis of notice. The case settled on a disputed basis for $1,000.00.
4. Colin v. Advance Transformer Co.
Petitioner allegedly sustained an injury to his low back and underwent surgery. At arbitration the Arbitrator found the case compensable under section 19(b). The case was then re-heard at arbitration and the Arbitrator awarded Petitioner permanent and total disability benefits. The case was then assigned to Mr. Maras who filed an appeal to the Industrial Commission. The Industrial Commission reduced the Arbitrator’s award from permanent total disability benefits to 5% loss of use man as a whole and was later settled on contracts.
5. Sikora v. Rose Exterminating
Petitioner, was employed as an exterminator, alleged that he was working underneath some cabinets, stood up, and noticed pain in his low back. He testified that he was taken to the hospital via ambulance and admitted for several days. Depositions were taken and it became apparent that to some of his treating doctors, Petitioner stated that he stood up to answer his pager and was reaching for the telephone when the onset of pain occurred. Respondent argued that under Board of Regents v. Industrial Commission, Petitioner did not sustain an accident because his testimony simply indicated that he stood up from a crouched position and noticed pain. The Arbitrator held that the act of arising from a crouched position does not equal an accident under the Act and compensation was denied. The case was never appealed by Petitioner and no money was paid by Respondent.
6. Pavlik v. Midway
Petitioner was employed as a desk attendant for several years in the terminal at Midway Airlines. She testified that throughout her workday, she was repeatedly exposed to the sound of take-offs and landings. Petitioner introduced evidence that demonstrated her hearing deficit as well as a government study documenting the excessive noise levels at Midway Airport. On cross-examination Petitioner admitted that she lived near Midway Airport for most of her life and could hear the air traffic from her home. Respondent also produced a hearing test taken at the time Petitioner was hired which documented her pre-employment audio deficit. The Arbitrator denied compensation.
7. Jacoby v. Pep Boys, Inc
Petitioner spent several years working as an auto mechanic. After being employed by Respondent for only ten days, he complained of carpal tunnel symptoms. At arbitration, the Arbitrator held Respondent liable. On appeal to the Industrial Commission, Mr. Maras noted that the treating doctor’s opinion was tenuous on causation while Respondent’s evaluator stated that the Petitioner’s condition was not related to his brief employment with Respondent. The Industrial Commission reversed the Arbitrator’s findings in their entirety and denied compensation.
8. Lori A. Rouse v. Eagle Country Market
Petitioner filed an Application for Adjustment of Claim alleging that she was unloading a product in the meat department cooler. The petitioner was taking boxes off of a skid and placing them on her cart. According to her statement, while lifting the product she was squatting and slightly bent forward. While moving a box from the skid to the cart she felt a pull in her back and fell to her knees.
9. Randall Means v. Lucent Technologies, et. al
Petitioner filed an Application for Adjustment of Claim alleging asbestos exposure during the course of his employment on April 26, 2001. The petitioner presented testimony and documentary evidence to support his claim. On cross-examination, the respondent was able to establish that the petitioner was not an employee of Lucent Technologies but rather with another respondent. Citing failure to establish an employer/employee relationship, the Arbitrator denied benefits.
10. Todd Stokes v. Commonwealth Edison
The petitioner was involved in a motor vehicle accident at work. Interestingly, the petitioner’s treating doctor viewed the petitioner’s vehicle noting a small amount of damage noted to the driver’s door with some scratches and a slight deformity in the left front quarter panel. The petitioner complained of some tingling sensations in the right arm but denied any head injuries. He also complained of mid left neck pain. The treating physician noted a cervical strain but also complaints of right upper extremity paresthesias in a non-anatomic distribution.
The petitioner exercised his right to another opinion and began treating with another physician who ordered an MRI study. The MRI demonstrated an annular bulging at the C4-C5 level and was also diagnosed with tennis leg. The petitioner underwent physical therapy and was eventually returned to work full duty.
The respondent’s Section 12 physician noted the treating physician’s reference to pain complaints and a non-anatomic distribution. The evaluating physician also noted evidence of significant symptom magnification. The evaluation physician also commented that petitioner’s complaints were subjective only and unbelievable.
The respondent elected to take the case to trial rather than simply award an employee with benefits when symptom magnification was noted. The petitioner submitted a proposed decision awarding him 10% loss of use to the person as a whole and 10% loss of use of the left leg for a total of $30,240.00. The Arbitrator’s award on permanency was for $5,184.00.
11. Teuta Pakashtica v. Speedway SuperAmerica, LLC
The petitioner was involved in an altercation with a former employee during the scope of her employment. She allegedly sustained injuries to her cervical spine. At trial, she also claimed damages for post-traumatic stress disorder. Prior to trial, the petitioner demanded 12% loss of use to the person as a whole which came to $22,564.80. The petitioner also demanded outstanding medical bills in the amount of $10,231.00 for a total demand of $32,795.80.
At trial, the petitioner was confronted with medical records regarding a motor vehicle accident subsequent to the accident at issue. The respondent also presented a Section 12 evaluation supporting the denial of medical bills after April 2, 2007. The Arbitrator awarded the petitioner 7.5% loss of use to the person as a whole and $2,245.00 in medical bills. The Arbitrator specifically denied liability for medical bills after the respondent’s Section 12 evaluation.
12. Joyce Steele v. The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission, Danville Metal Stamping, No. 4-08-0676WC, (4th Dist. 2009)
Petitioner filed an application for adjustment of claim alleging entitlement to benefits for injury to her bilateral upper extremities. Petitioner alleged that her condition was due to her repetitive work activities. The Arbitrator denied the Petitioner’s claim and no benefits were awarded. The Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the Arbitrator. The Circuit Court confirmed the decision of the Commission. The Appellate Court reviewed the matter on two significant issues: 1) whether Petitioner’s condition arose out of and occurred during the course of her work activities; and 2) whether an independent medical examiner’s statements are admissible as statements against the respondent’s interests. The Appellate Court affirmed the decision of the Commission on both issues finding that the record contained significant evidence that the Petitioner’s condition did not arise out of the work activities alleged by the Petitioner. The Appellate Court relied on the following evidence presented by the Respondent to support its decision: settlement contracts indicating that prior injuries to the same body parts existed; video evidence depicting the Petitioner’s job duties; conflicting causation opinions in the treating records; petitioner’s own testimony; and testimony of additional fact witnesses. The Appellate Court further decided that the Commission’s decision to reject the Petitioner’s exhibit of Respondent’s section 12 examiner’s records as an admission against the employer was appropriate. The Court held that the expert is not an agent of the employer, therefore his opinions and statements are not admissible as admissions against the employer’s interests.