Auto Parts Retailer Prevails in Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Trial and Appeal
Case Study

Auto Parts Retailer Prevails in Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission Trial and Appeal

June 23, 2021

Goldberg Segalla’s Kyle P. Carlson, special counsel in the firm’s Workers’ Compensation group based in Chicago, defended a trial victory before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission upon Review, resulting in the denial of a cervical fusion surgery and reducing client exposure by at least $200,000.

In this matter, an auto parts salesperson alleged permanent injury to his cervical spine after a car part fell off of a shelf and struck him in the head, causing a small forehead laceration. After approximately two years of on-and-off treatment, the claimant had been recommended for cervical fusion surgery and was alleging a traumatic brain injury with severe migraines.

Kyle defended this case in disputing the causal relation of any cervical condition and the medical necessity of the proposed cervical fusion surgery. The petitioner’s exaggerated subjective complaints were inconsistent over time, and his objective medical findings reflected sequela of a variety of pre-existing conditions. A thorough medical record investigation and our experience in selecting highly reputable Independent Medical Examiners (IMEs) with relevant expertise was crucial to the defense of this claim. Two IME physicians, a neurologist and a neurosurgeon, opined the petitioner’s subjective complaints did not match his objective medical findings; the work accident had not permanently altered his pre-accident medical baseline; and he could return to work in a full-duty capacity without further treatment. During cross-examination, the petitioner’s treating physician admitted he did not actually know the weight or size of the car part that struck the petitioner’s forehead and he had disregarded another medical professional’s records that documented a pre-existing cervical disc herniation.

At trial, the petitioner admitted to a history of migraines; a childhood coma history; prior bilateral shoulder surgeries; and inconsistent subjective complaints and gaps in treatment in his medical records. The arbitrator described the claimant’s testimony during cross-examination as “dramatic” and not credible, holding the respondent-employer was not liable for any cervical condition or for any further treatment. The petitioner appealed, seeking Commission Review.

Kyle earned a favorable decision upon oral argument and in written briefings before a panel of commissioners, who agreed and upheld the outcome. The case was remanded for determination of a permanent partial disability award (PPD) for a mere head laceration and temporary aggravation of pre-existing migraines. The PPD portion of the case settled in April 2021 for only $4,500.

MORE ABOUT GOLDBERG SEGALLA’S WORKERS’ COMPENSATION GROUP:

Goldberg Segalla’s success in efficient file-handling, as well as long-range strategic risk-management, has earned us a national reputation for exceeding our clients’ expectations and driving positive change in the practice of workers’ compensation law. One of the first law firms ever to approach workers’ compensation in this manner and at this scale, we have been able to achieve extraordinary cost savings for leading employers in sectors ranging from construction to retail to the gig economy.