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Injured Navy Pier Painter Award is Affirmed

October 3, 2017

A man employed by Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority for 13 years as a union painter injured his cervical spine in the course of his employment. The claimant worked at Navy Pier in Chicago and on the day of the incident he was driving a boom lift up a ramp when the wheels suddenly “locked up” and “jerked [him] violently.” He immediately felt a “sharp burning sensation” in his right shoulder and his “neck went back.” After gathering his composure, the claimant returned the boom lift to the loading dock, walked to the paint shop and reported the incident to his foreman. The claimant also testified that he filled out an accident report, and subsequently gave a recorded statement to Metropolitan’s third-party administrator. A long string of doctor appointments and therapy followed.

Ankin Law Office attorney Josh Rudolfi represented the painter in the appellate court hearing where the Illinois Workers Compensation Commission award of temporary total disability benefits, medical expenses, and wage differential benefits were affirmed.

(Click here to read the details of the case)

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Early stages of diagnosis and treatment below:
¶ 4 Prior to the events giving rise to the instant claim, the claimant had a medical history that is relevant to the disposition of this case. On February 10, 2009, the claimant presented to Dr. Thomas Bacevich at Hammond Clinic, complaining of a “pulled muscle” in his right neck after lifting a dog above his head. Dr. Bacevich’s notes of that visit state that the claimant’s pain is “off and on,” radiates to his head, and is “fairly mild.” The doctor diagnosed the claimant with a cervical back strain, prescribed medication for pain, and told the claimant to return on an as needed basis. The claimant testified that his neck pain resolved and he did not seek follow-up
care.
¶ 5 At the time of the injuries at issue, the claimant had been employed by Metropolitan for 13 years as a union painter. The claimant worked at Navy Pier in Chicago and his responsibilities included painting the exterior portions of buildings and bridges, as well as the Ferris wheel and carousel. On rainy days, the claimant worked inside and would paint the shops, offices, and arcade. The claimant often worked at elevated heights of 80 to 200 feet and was required to operate boom lifts, scissor lifts, and condor lifts. The claimant’s job also entailed climbing ladders, carrying 5-gallon buckets of paint weighing 60 to 70 pounds, and using various power tools, grinding equipment, and “spray pump” units. The claimant further explained that
his work involved repetitive overhead work.
¶ 6 The claimant testified that, on June 1, 2010, he was driving a boom lift up a ramp when the wheels suddenly “locked up” and “jerked [him] violently.” He immediately felt a “sharp
burning sensation” in his right shoulder and his “neck went back.” After gathering his composure, the claimant returned the boom lift to the loading dock, walked to the paint shop and reported the incident to his foreman. The claimant also testified that he filled out an accident report, and subsequently gave a recorded statement to Metropolitan’s third-party administrator.
¶ 7 The next day, the claimant presented to Dr. Gina Dudley at Hammond Clinic, complaining of neck pain “for the past 3-4 months” and right shoulder pain. Dr. Dudley ordered x-rays of the claimant’s cervical spine and right shoulder, and took the claimant off of work until June 4, 2010. X-rays of the claimant’s cervical spine and right shoulder were taken later that
same day. According to the radiologist’s report, x-rays of the claimant’s cervical spine showed “[m]oderate to severe disc space narrowing and degenerative findings at C3-4 and C5-C6.” Xrays of the claimant’s right shoulder demonstrated “moderate degenerative findings of the A/C
joint with undersurface spurring” and “subchondral sclerosis and cyst formation at the superolateral margin of the humeral head suggesting possible rotator cuff abnormality.”
¶ 8 On June 4, 2010, the claimant returned to Hammond Clinic and was seen by nurse practitioner Jayne Targgart. Targgart’s notes of that visit state that the claimant presented with complaints of neck pain which “[s]eems to have started in February” and right shoulder pain which “began on Friday after a jerking motion while he was working.” Targgart ordered MRIs of the claimant’s right shoulder and cervical spine, and referred the claimant to orthopedic
surgery for evaluation and treatment. She also instructed the claimant to take NSAIDs and muscle relaxers and to limit the use of his right shoulder. Targgart authorized the claimant to return to work with restrictions of no lifting, carrying, pulling, or pushing greater than 10 pounds, no work above shoulder level, and limited use of the right arm.
¶ 9 The claimant underwent a cervical spine MRI on June 18, 2010. The radiologist’s report of that scan states that a congenital fusion was present at C4-5 and a herniated disc at C3-4 was “generating severe central narrowing with resultant impingement of the cervical spinal cord with posterior displacement.” The scan also disclosed mild degenerative changes at C5-6 and
moderate spondylosis throughout the remainder of the cervical spine. On July 9, 2010, an MRI was performed on the claimant’s right shoulder. The radiologist interpreted that scan as showing a full thickness tear of the supraspinatus tendon anteriorly with rotator cuff tendinopathy,
hypertrophic changes of the AC joint with inferior spurring, and degenerative changes of the glenoid labrum.