Daniel S. Wellner is a partner in Hennessy & Roach's Chicago Office and has been counseling clients in the field of Illinois Worker Compensation defense since 1997. He has litigated dozens of claims at the Illinois Workers Compensation and on appeal before the Circuit and Appellate Courts. He earned a Bachelor of Arts, doubling majoring in History and Polictical Science, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1994. Dan earned a Juris Doctor from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 1997. Dan is currently a member of the Illinois Bar and Federal Bar for the Northern District of Illinois. He currently resides in Oak Park, Illinois and enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons.
SIGNIFICANT APPELLATE COURT DECISIONS
1. Doug Holleran v. ND Industries (2016 IL App [1st] 153432 WC – U)
Petitioner alleged a causally related back and hip injury from lifting. The back claim was accepted. The causation of the hip was denied based upon a delay in reporting symptoms and treatment for the hip. On February 27, 2014, Arbitrator Thompson Smith issued a decision finding that the hip injury was not causally related to the accident. Respondent’s examining physician’s opinions were found credible over Petitioner’s and the treating physician’s testimony concerning his symptoms following the injury. Petitioner filed a review before the Circuit Court of Cook County, and the court affirmed the Commission’s decision based upon a manifest weight of the evidence standard. Petitioner filed an appeal before the Illinois Appellate Court. He argued the decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence. He also argued a legal technicality alleging that the surveillance was improperly admitted. The Appellate Court rejected these arguments and affirmed the Commission decision based upon the manifest weight of the evidence standard.
2. Seth Whitmer v. Dawn Foods Corp. (2016 IL App (3d) 150829WC-U)
Petitioner had a compensable back injury after lifting. Respondent obtained an examination finding that Petitioner had a strain injury only and that Petitioner was able to return to work without need for additional treatment. The matter was tried, and the Arbitrator found that Petitioner had a causally related condition that warranted additional treatment and benefits. The Commission reviewed the Decision and reversed the Arbitrator’s findings. The Commission found that Respondent’s examining physician more credible and that Petitioner was not credible concerning pre-injury back complaints noted in the medical records. The Circuit Court reversed the Commission, noting support for Petitioner’s claims in the records. However, the Appellate Court affirmed the Commission Decision. Using the manifest weight of the evidence standard, the Court found that there was sufficient evidence to support the Decision.
3. Leon Torres v. City of Chicago (2017 IL App [1st] 161436 WC-U)
Petitioner had a compensable neck injury after a fall. Six months later he began treatment for a right shoulder injury, which he claims was related to the fall. After receipt of a supporting medical opinion, Respondent denied causation of the right shoulder injury, and the matter proceeded to hearing. The Arbitrator found no causation for the right shoulder, and this finding was affirmed by the Commission. The Circuit Court reversed noting some early mentions of potential right shoulder pathology in the record. The Appellate Court reversed the Circuit Court and affirmed the Commission finding of no causation. The Court found under the manifest weight of the evidence standard that there was enough evidence in the record to support the Commission Decision.
SIGNIFICANT ARBITRATION DECISIONS
1. Jheri Hooks v. J.C. Penney (96 WC 10151, 96 WC 10152 & 96 WC 10153 )
Petitioner alleged that she had three separate slip and fall injuries. Petitioner's testimony that she injured her upper back, left leg and left shoulder was inconsistent with the only contemporaneous treatment records in evidence. She reported another source of injury for her back pain in the medical records. The medical records of the later accident showed that Petitioner did not seek treatment or otherwise mention her falls to a medical provider until seven months after the date of the fall. The Arbitrator found that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Petitioner had accidents arising out of and in the scope of her employment.
2. Julie Ozyuk v. Gallagher Bassett (02 WC 48607)
The Petitioner had a compensable left shoulder injury. She alleged that while in therapy for the left shoulder, she injured her right shoulder and neck. The medical records were devoid of any right shoulder and neck complaints until December 2003, three months after Petitioner alleged the injury in therapy. Petitioner could not show that the physical therapist did not purposely did not document Petitioner's complaints. The Arbitrator denied medical treatment and temporary total disability related to the right shoulder and neck. The Commission affirmed these findings.
3. Earl Rose v. Heidbreder - Peters Company (03 WC 5658 - 06 IWCC 462)
This claim involved an alleged injury on May 8, 2003. Petitioner had a previous claim for a date of injury of September 2001. Petitioner's allegation was that on May 8, 2003 he injured his back from a repetitive trauma. However, there was no supporting testimony or documentary evidence of any work injury after September 2001. Petitioner could only admit that he notified Respondent of his increased symptoms in May 2003, but he failed to notify them of the new work injury. While Petitioner had an appointment with his doctor in May 2003, the evidence showed that Petitioner had originally scheduled this appointment in December 2002, while he was laid off from his employment. The Arbitrator found that Petitioner did not have an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment and denied any compensation under the May 2003 injury. This Decision was affirmed by the Commission.
4. Robert DeAngelo v. Aramark Management Services (04 WC 5850 - 08 IWCC 367)
Petitioner alleged that neck and back surgeries were related to an injury caused by repetitive trauma. The Arbitrator found that there was no compensable accident. Petitioner did not seek medical treatment for several months after his he allegedly started feeling pain. When he received treatment he did not provide a history of a work injury. Moreover, the Arbitrator adopted the opinions of Respondent's examining physician that Petitioner's cervical and lumbar conditions were pre-existing conditions which were not caused nor aggravated by Petitioner's employment with Respondent. The Commission affirmed the Arbitrator's Decision.
5. Tomasa Salgado v. Koch Foods (10 WC 2376 - 11 IWCC 1151)
Petitioner had a compensable injury to her left wrist which occurred on June 29, 2009. She then claimed that on July 1, 2009 she injured her shoulder and knee from light-duty work which was assigned after the left wrist injury. The July 1, 2009 matter was denied. The evidence showed that there was no medical documentation of an injury to the shoulder or the knee until the end of October 2009. This reporting of a knee and shoulder injury coincided with Petitioner seeking new treatment at another provider. Witness testimony from Respondent indicated no awareness of injuries to other body parts after the initial wrist injury. Petitioner could also not credibly testify when she first felt pain in her knee and shoulder. The Arbitrator found Petitioner did not have an accident arising out of and in the course of her employment. The Commission affirmed his findings.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1994
Chicago Kent College of Law, 1997
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