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I&F prevails where legal secretary cannot establish manifestation date of condition

I&F recently scored another repetitive trauma win when the Commission affirmed an Arbitration decision finding that petitioner failed to prove the manifestation date of her condition.  In this case, the petitioner began working for the respondent as a legal secretary in 1990. She filed two repetitive trauma claims against the respondent alleging that her job duties had caused bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome. In one case, she alleged an accident date of August 23, 2005. In the other case, she alleged an accident date of June 30, 2006. The cases were consolidated and tried together. Inman & Fitzgibbons represented the respondent for the alleged August 23, 2005 date of accident. The defense of the other case was handled by a different firm.

At trial, the petitioner testified that she was working on a “big case” in August of 2005, and that she told her supervisor on August 23, 2005 that her hands were bothering her. An ergonomic keyboard was provided on August 23, 2005. The petitioner didn’t seek treatment for carpal tunnel symptoms until June 30, 2006, and she was not formally diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome until March 2007. The petitioner didn’t miss any time from work until August 10, 2006, at which time she moved to Texas in part because she thought taking a break from work and resting her hands might help. The petitioner admitted at trial that she know nothing about carpal tunnel syndrome and didn’t have time to investigate what it was when she moved to Texas in August of 2006.

We argued that under the Illinois Supreme Court case of Durand v. Industrial Commission, 224 Ill.2d 53 (2007), the petitioner failed to prove a manifestation date of August 23, 2005. In Durand, the court expressed a preference for setting the manifestation date on either the date on which the petitioner requires medical treatment or the date on which a petitioner can no longer perform work activities.  Given that the petitioner didn’t seek treatment until June 30, 2006 and didn’t miss any time from work until August 10, 2006, the Arbitrator agreed that the petitioner didn’t meet her burden of proving a manifestation date of August 23, 2005. The fact that she wasn’t diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome until March 2007 and that she acknowledged not knowing about carpal tunnel syndrome in August 2006 also doomed her attempt to establish a manifestation date of August 23, 2005. All benefits were awarded on the companion case involving the alleged accident date of June 30, 2006.

The petitioner’s attorney appealed the Arbitrator’s decision and oral arguments were held. In a unanimous decision, the Commission affirmed the decision of the Arbitrator. The petitioner did not appeal to the Circuit Court.  Congratulations to Scott McCain for the great result.

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