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Fax: 312.277.3008
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Case Name: June 2016 – Marcelina Marchan v. Flying Food Group
Venue:  
IWCC Chicago/Arbitrator Cronin
Handling Attorney: 
Lead Attorney – Kurt V. Wakefield; Co-counsel – Brad Knell
Date of Accident:  
August 14, 2014
Potential Exposure: Approximately $147,058.55
Arbitrator Findings: 
Respondent wins on all issues; $0.00 in benefits due and owing to Petitioner

 

Dear Clients:

 

We are extremely pleased to share with you our most recent trial victory at the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.  This case involved a highly questionable slip-and-fall, and we prevailed because of our top-notch preparation, attention to every detail and inconsistency, and the knowledgeable testimony of our client’s Safety Manager.  We also want to congratulate Kurt Wakefield in winning his first trial ever!

 

Potential Exposure:

 

This case involved an alleged workplace slip-and-fall that created $147,058.55 in potential liability broken down as follows:
• $81,115.45 in medical expenses including two hernia surgeries and multiple years of conservative treatment for both hernia and back conditions,
• $43,415.00 in permanency for an alleged hernia aggravation and lumbar sprain, and
• at least $22,528.10 to represent work missed due to temporary total disability
Because of our success at trial, our client has no liability for this alleged workplace accident.

 

Strategy:

 

We steadfastly denied this claim from the beginning.  We were aware that under the law, it is the claimant who bears the burden of proving every element of her claim, and we intended to use the collective impact of numerous inconsistencies to cast doubt upon her story.  We used the Petitioner’s own pre-accident medical records to show that her condition was essentially unchanged before and after the alleged slip-and-fall.  We aggressively pressed the Petitioner on cross-examination to explain, causing her to contradict her own former statements and damage her own credibility.  Through the testimony of the Employer’s Safety Manager, we were able to show the unlikelihood of the Petitioner falling in the way that she claimed.  Further, we were able to show how the accident report that she signed indicated that she fell in a different position than that which she testified to, and that there were no witnesses to her fall, another statement that she contradicted at trial.  By holding the Petitioner to every detail of her story, it did not hold up to scrutiny and she was unable to show her entitlement to any benefits from our client.

 

Significance:

 

There are several lessons that we as a firm learned from this victory about how to win at the IWCC, which can be a very hostile venue for Employers.  These are the most important:
• Solid reporting procedures are crucial:  Because our client had a clear, reliable, and well-known accident reporting procedure, the Petitioner was “locked in” to an early version of her story, including how she allegedly fell and who allegedly saw it.  When she tried to change her story later, she was contradicting herself and damaging her own credibility.
• Details win cases:  It may have been sufficient to show that Petitioner had a pre-existing hernia before her alleged slip-and-fall.  But we went beyond and showed that her self-reported pain levels were unchanged, that she was referred to surgery prior to her alleged accident, and that her pain improved, deteriorated, and radiated throughout her legs seemingly at random throughout her treatment (and pressing her on each detail only created more contradictions).

Thank you for allowing us to share with you our latest successful trial result.  If you have any additional questions or thoughts about this decision, please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned or the handling attorney, Kurt V. Wakefield.