Decision awarding a City of Chicago investigator shoulder surgery [2018]

Ankin Law attorney, Joshua Rudolfi, represented Kelvin Lett following a shoulder injury that occurred while Mr. Lett was doing administrative work duties. Kelvin Lett worked for Respondent’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) as an Investigator II.

On December 2016, Mr. Lett was taken off of investigative duties and was assigned administrative duties, which Petitioner described as janitorial. Petitioner suffered a shoulder injury while lifting boxes.  The arbitrator for this case ordered Respondent to authorize and pay for the proposed arthroscopic surgery and all reasonable and necessary post-operative rehabilitative care.

(Read full arbitration here)


Petitioner’s new job duties included carrying boxes of copy paper from a storage area to work areas. On December 21, 2016 Petitioner was instructed by Ms. Moore to bring up boxes of copy paper with a co-worker, Christine Lee. Each box contained 8 reams of paper. Petitioner testified that while lifting these boxes he felt a pain and a pop in his right shoulder. He testified that he did not file a report of the incident. He did not seek immediate medical treatment because he felt that the pain would subside. Petitioner testified that he continued to work, but that he did not have to do any lifting.

When the shoulder pain did not subside, Petitioner sought treatment for his injury on January 2, 2017 with his chiropractor, Dr. Frank Vaught (PX #1). Petitioner had been treating with Dr. Vaught for an unrelated cervical spine condition. Petitioner testified that he gave a history of his work accident to Dr. Vaught. Dr. Vaught did not note Petitioner’s report of when his shoulder complaints began or that he had been injured at work. Dr. Vaught did note Petitioner’s complaint of 5/10 right shoulder pain. There were no notes indicating that Dr. Vaught examined Petitioner’s shoulder. Petitioner followed no notes indicating that Dr. Vaught examined Petitioner’s shoulder. Petitioner followed up with Dr. Vaught on January 4, 2017, continuing to complain of 5/10 right shoulder pain. Dr. Vaught’s records note Petitioner’s ongoing chiropractic care for cervical complaints up to March 3, 2017. There were notes of continued shoulder pain but no notes indicating that Dr. Vaught treated Petitioner’s shoulder complaints.

Dr. Vaught ordered a right shoulder MRI. The January 5, 2017 MRI revealed a partial tear of the supraspinatus tendon and early acromioclavicular arthrosis (PX #2).

Petitioner testified that on January 10, 2017 he was instructed by his supervisor, Ms. Annette Moore, to again move boxes of copy paper at work. Petitioner testified that he reported that he was unable to lift the paper due to an injury sustained that last time he moved paper. Petitioner testified that he presented Ms. Moore with paperwork relating to his right shoulder injury and rotator cuff tear. Petitioner testified that Ms. Moore instructed him to have someone help him lift the paper if he was unable to do it himself. Petitioner sought the help of a co-worker, Investigator Dan Koble. Mr. Koble, along with another co-worker, Christine Lee, assisted Petitioner in moving the boxes of copy paper. Petitioner testified that while watching Mr. Koble move the paper he reported his injury again to Christine Lee. An injury report was not made.

Chicago personal injury and workers’ compensation attorney Howard Ankin has a passion for justice and a relentless commitment to defending injured victims throughout the Chicagoland area. With decades of experience achieving justice on behalf of the people of Chicago, Howard has earned a reputation as a proven leader in and out of the courtroom. Respected by peers and clients alike, Howard’s multifaceted approach to the law and empathetic nature have secured him a spot as an influential figure in the Illinois legal system.

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