Sysco Food Service of Chicago v IWCC

SYSCO FOOD SERVICE OF CHICAGO v. THE ILLINOIS WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION, 2017 IL App (1st) 170435WC

 

 

The Appellate Court affirmed the Commission’s denial of a wage loss claim based on the employer’s refusal to place petitioner at his previous position as a truck driver following surgery for a torn meniscus.  Both treating and examining physicians found petitioner able to work without restriction and petitioner testified that he was willing and able to return to truck driving; however, the examining physician also stated that due to a non-work related degenerative condition of the knee that it was reasonable to restrict his work.  The circuit court reversed, finding the Commission “determined to reach a particular outcome” by ignoring the treating physician’s comment that the injury “probably aggravated a pre-existing chondromalacia.”  Finding the degenerative condition causally related, the court remanded the case with instructions to enter a wage loss award.  On remand, the Commission complied, but noted that it had considered the doctor’s report which went on to say, “whether or not degeneration is related to the aging process or [an accident] on the job, I have a more difficult time saying one versus the other.”  On appeal, the employer argued that petitioner was under no restriction due to his work-related condition and thus not entitled to wage loss, and that the doctor’s report did not establish a causal nexus between the accident and the degenerative condition.  The Appellate Court agreed, stating the circuit court had “usurped” the Commission’s fact-finding function, and reinstated the original decision awarding specific loss for the knee injury.  The court further held that in order to qualify for wage loss, an employee must be partially incapacitated from pursuing his customary line of employment “as a result” of an injury and not merely being prohibited from doing so by his employer.  

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