Madison - St. Clair Record

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Fifth District upholds denial of man's workers' compensation claim

By John Sammon | Nov 6, 2017

The Fifth District Appellate Court on Nov. 1 denied an appeal by Robert Leyden to collect workers' compensation benefits after Leyden alleged he was injured in an on-the-job accident.

In September 2011, Leyden filed a claim under the Workers' Compensation Act for an injury to his right shoulder he had allegedly suffered the previous month.

In denying Leyden's workers' compensation claim, the court's ruling states that hospital records reported the shoulder pain as a result of moving household items in preparation for a move to a new place of residence.

The Morris Hospital record stated “Right shoulder pain - moving household items over the weekend - thinks pulled something,” according to the order. The hospital record further documented that the pain began four days prior to the visit to Morris.

Leyden, 70 at the time of the 2014 arbitration hearing, was in the business of hauling dry and liquid products in bulk tanks and worked as a truck driver driving throughout the country. On Aug. 23, 2011, he traveled to Perry, Mo., to deliver a load of plastic pellets. The truck he was driving used a hose that generated air pressure to unload the pellets and pump them into a container.

On this occasion, the hose allegedly failed to work properly and Leyden said he noticed a hatch on the trailer of the vehicle that was open and unsecured. He said he attempted to close the hatch twice but it "popped back out," so he leaned hard on the hatch to close it, the opinion stated. Leyden got the hatch closed but said he felt a pain in his right shoulder, the order states.

After returning to the office of his employer Hoffman Transportation in Channahon on the day of the alleged accident, Leyden reported it to his supervisors and was taken to Morris Hospital in Morris by a co-worker. After being treated at the hospital, Leyden later sought treatment from an orthopedic surgeon who diagnosed the injury as a rotator cuff tear. Surgery on the injury was performed in November 2011.

Under questioning in the case, Dr. Michael Milne, a surgeon, testified that after originally supporting the premise the injury was work-related, examination of the hospital records led him to conclude the injury was instead caused by working at home. He further stated such an injury is usually associated with a more chronic long-term problem and that closing a hatch did not look like it could cause such a shoulder tear.

Company supervisors testified that nothing was found to be wrong with the hatch on the truck.

On April 10, 2015, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission decided that Leyden failed to establish he was injured on the job. The Circuit Court of Madison County confirmed the decision the following year.

The appellate court affirmed both the commission finding and the circuit court decision.  

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Illinois Fifth District Appellate Court