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Ankin Law Client Sees Decision Upheld by Appellate Court

October 22, 2021

An Ankin Law client who injured her right shoulder at work saw her Workers’ Compensation Commission decision upheld by the Appellate Court of Illinois. As a result, her employer was ordered to authorize and pay for the medical treatment recommendations of the claimant’s physician. 

The woman injured her shoulder as she reached behind herself in an awkward position and pushed down on the lever of a malfunctioning toilet. She stated that, when she initially pushed the lever, the toilet did not flush, so she pushed harder. It was at this point that she felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder down to her elbow. After a series of doctor appointments with her doctor and one preferred by the employer she will be having rotator cuff surgery. 

Read the Appellate Court Order Below:

 

Below is a brief excerpt from the order that describes the accident:

The claimant testified that, on July 12, 2016, she was employed by Conifer as a third-party medical billing follow-up representative. When she was on her way to a meeting with her superior, LF, the claimant stopped to use the restroom. The restroom is in an employee-only area and is only accessible with keycards. The claimant described the restroom as having four stalls. According to the claimant, she made use of the third stall, and when she was in a “squatting” position on the toilet, she reached behind herself to flush the toilet. She stated that, when she initially pushed the lever, the toilet did not flush, so she pushed harder. It was at this point that she felt a sharp pain in her right shoulder down to her elbow. Without objection, the claimant introduced statements from ten of her co-workers attesting to problems with the flushing mechanism in the third-stall toilet, including requiring greater force to flush the toilet and multiple attempts to flush. According to the claimant, she was aware of problems with that particular toilet, but that the third stall was the only available toilet when she entered the restroom on July 12, 2016. The claimant testified that, after the incident, she went to the meeting with her supervisor, LF, and notified her of the accident. It was the claimant’s belief that a report of the accident was filled out several weeks later by her director, AC.

Following the incident, the claimant first sought medical treatment for her right shoulder on July 29, 2016, when she presented to Dr. R, complaining of right shoulder pain and weakness in forward reaching and overhead lifting. Dr. R’s notes of that visit contain a history of the claimant attempting to flush a toilet at work on July 12, 2016, when she experienced a ripping sensation in the lateral aspect of her right shoulder. Following his examination of the claimant’s right shoulder, Dr. R noted his suspicion that the claimant sustained a rotator cuff tear secondary to “*** flushing a malfunctioning toilet with an outstretched posterior-ward reaching arm” and had early symptoms of a frozen shoulder. Dr. R administered an injection into the claimant’s right shoulder, prescribed physical therapy, and ordered an MRI of the claimant’s right shoulder. The claimant was advised that she could continue working full duty.