Heyl Royster

Heyl Royster's Leah Nolan Secures Victory in Recent Case, Award Substantially Reduced on Appeal

Posted on May 28, 2024 at 1:50 PM by Leah Nolan

We are proud to announce a victory secured by Leah Nolan from Heyl Royster's Chicago office. Her exceptional work led to the reversal of the arbitrator's opinion, resulting in a substantial reduction of the award.

In this case, the petitioner, who sustained a right shoulder sprain on January 11, 2017, returned to work on January 14, 2017, where she worked full duty without restrictions and without complaint for several months. She later developed right shoulder adhesive capsulitis, right shoulder subacromial bursitis, and neck pain. She eventually underwent a right shoulder capsular release, subacromial decompression, biceps tenotomy, and distal clavicle excision. Following her surgery, the petitioner claimed due to overuse, she developed adhesive capsulitis in the left shoulder. The petitioner contended that the bilateral adhesive capsulitis, subacromial bursitis in the right shoulder, and neck pain were related to her January 11, 2017, work injury. The Arbitrator awarded Respondent pay a total award of $174,733.79 plus payment of medical bills. 

On appeal, the defense, led by Heyl Royster's Leah Nolan, argued that the petitioner sustained nothing more than a right shoulder strain, which was resolved when she returned to work on January 14, 2017. Additionally, the defense argued that there were no additional symptoms or complaints of injury until approximately three months post-injury and that the petitioner's right shoulder adhesive capsulitis and subacromial bursitis diagnoses and neck injury were too far apart in time and not supported by the medical evidence to be related to the work injury. With regard to the left shoulder injury, the defense highlighted that the petitioner's spontaneous development of adhesive capsulitis in this shoulder supported the defense theory that the petitioner was susceptible to the development of adhesive capsulitis based on her sex, age, and body mass. The defense further highlighted that the petitioner was left-hand dominant and that the petitioner's own treating physician testified there was a "10% chance" that the overuse of the left shoulder could cause problems with it. As such, the petitioner could not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that she suffered injuries beyond the strain that arose out of and in the course of employment. 

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission reversed and modified the Arbitrator's findings and determined there was no causal connection regarding the petitioner's condition beyond her initial return to work date, that she sustained nothing more than a strain as related to the work accident, and reduced the total award to $2,423.65 plus payment of a single medical bill.

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