The Illinois Industrial Commission Majority Awarded Permanent Total Disability Benefits To Claimant For Arachnoiditis And Pain-Induced Depression

On remand, a majority of the Commission held that claimant was permanently totally disabled due to aggravation of an arachnoiditis condition and pain-induced depression as a result of a slip and fall accident at work, finding claimant to be highly credible and relying on the medical findings and opinions of claimant’s treating examining doctors.

Claimant, a unit clerk at defendant’s hospital, was walking from her desk while carrying items in both hands when she slipped and fell on the floor. She was subsequently diagnosed with arachnoiditis and pain-induced depression. She made several attempts at returning to work but was unable to continue due to pain. Claimant’s treating doctor opined that claimant could not continue working because her pain level prevented her from concentrating and completing work duties. He stated that this was further complicated by major depression. Another doctor examined claimant on her behalf on two occasions and opined that she could not return to work. At the time of hearing, claimant testified that she often sleeps only two to three hours per night due to muscle spasms in her leg.

The arbitrator found claimant temporarily totally disabled for 36-6/7 weeks and permanently disabled to the extent of 40% under section 8(d)2. The Commission affirmed the decision of the arbitrator. The Circuit Court of Cook County remanded with instructions to reconsider the award absent the report of defendant’s examining doctor.

On remand, a majority of the Commission found claimant temporarily totally disabled for 62-5/7 weeks and permanently totally disabled. The majority found significant that claimant attempted to return to work on several occasions. Also, the majority found claimant highly credible and relied on the medical findings and opinion of her treating and examining doctors.

The dissent argued that there was no factual change in the facts warranting a different award from the Commission’s previous 40 percent permanent partial disability award. The dissent contended that the omitted doctor’s report was merely duplicative.