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Case Name: December 2017 – Jesus Campos v. Polyone Corporation
Venue:  
Chicago – Arbitrator Soto
Handling Attorney: 
Thomas R. Boyd
Case No.: 
11 WC 1632
Date of Accident:  
12/01/2010
Trial Dates: 
04/03/2016, 12/06/2016, & 09/20/2017
Arbitrator Findings:
$0 Award

 

Dear Clients:

 

We are happy to announce the above recent trial result and our successful defense against a claim for a Permanent Total Disability award. After 3 long days of trial and the testimony of 6 witnesses, we secured a decision in which the Arbitrator found no accident, no causal connection, and no medical liability on the part of our client.

 

FACTS:

 

Petitioner testified that on December 1, 2010, he injured his right knee when he was pushing a mixing bowl while at work. Petitioner testified that he reported the accident to his supervisor, and was taken to the company clinic. Petitioner denied having experienced any prior right knee injuries or issues to the company clinic and to any of the treating orthopedic specialists, including Respondent’s Independent Medical Examiner. He then underwent an unauthorized knee surgery in December 2012, which resulted in the imposition of permanent sedentary work restrictions. Petitioner’s hired Rehabilitation Counselor testified that Petitioner would not benefit from vocational rehabilitation and that in his expert opinion, there was no stable labor market for him.

 

LEGAL ANALYSIS/DEFENSES:

 

On the initial date of trial, April 13, 2017, Petitioner’s family care physician took the stand and began to testify that he had known and treated Petitioner for nearly 20 years. As testimony unfolded, it became evident that Petitioner may have sought treatment for prior knee injuries. We quickly moved to bifurcate the trial and subpoenaed all of the doctor’s records in order to have our Independent Medical Examiner review any pre-accident findings.

 

Trial was continued on December 6, 2016 and Petitioner’s treating doctor once again took the stand. After extensive cross-examination, it became clear that the treating doctor had withheld pre-accident records, and also possibly failed to document prior right knee symptoms and treatment. This misstep was exposed on cross-examination and significantly lessened the credibility of the treating doctor’s testimony and medical opinions. Further, we enlisted our IME doctor to review the newly received pre-accident records and update his report, due to the fact that the Petitioner had expressly denied having any prior right knee problems.

 

On our second day of trial, we also conducted extensive cross-examination of the Petitioner and of Petitioner’s hired rehabilitation counselor, who testified on direct examination that the claimant had no stable job market and was permanently totally disabled. On cross, we exposed the counselor’s lack of follow-through on the jobs listed in our Labor Market Survey.

 

We also were able to force Petitioner to admit that he did not apply for a single job from 2010 until two days before the 2016 trial. Petitioner also admitted on cross-examination that he sought treatment with his treating doctor one month prior to the alleged accident due to three months of ongoing knee pain, which he himself thought was due to arthritis.

 

Our key defense witness also testified, stating that after Petitioner’s initial denial of any prior knee injury, Petitioner admitted to prior right knee pain when pressed. Our defense witness was instrumental in allowing us to admit a 2007 accident report into evidence, which corroborated his testimony regarding Petitioner’s admission of a prior right knee injury that he initially denied.

 

FUTURE CLAIM/LITIGATION RECOMMENDATIONS:

 

As is often the case, a defense witness with firsthand knowledge of the job site and duties of the injured worker can be critical. Here, the testimony of a representative of our client was able to paint a very clear picture of the type of equipment used at the job site, and of the situation immediately following the Petitioner’s alleged accident, including details about Petitioner’s eventual oral admission of a prior knee injury.

 

Carefully conduct cross-examination with witnesses where credibility may be an issue. Always be sure to know the answer that an adverse witness is likely to give before even asking the question. Based on our investigation, we knew that Petitioner had reported a prior work injury to the knee, and that he had sought treatment with his family doctor. We allowed him to deny prior knee issues in his initial testimony, and then exposed him on cross-examination.

 

If you should have any additional questions or comments concerning this decision, please feel free to contact the undersigned or Mr. Thomas R. Boyd.