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Case Name:Roy Kimble v. PolyOne Corporation

Venue: Peoria – Arbitrator Fratianni

Type of Decision:  Section 19(b)

Trial and Review Attorney: Robert M. Harris

Case No.: 11WC 14369; 14 IWCC 0209
Date of Accident: 08/27/2009


Petitioner’s claim at Arbitration: Prospective medical for bilateral carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel. No lost time case.

Arbitration award:  NONE.  Claim for compensation denied; no accident and no causal connection. Petitioner Reviewed. Commission unanimously affirmed and adopted Arbitrator’s Decision. Panel Commissioners were Lamborn, Tyrrell, Brennan.

Petitioner’s Claim at Trial: Petitioner was a 60 year-old boiler operator who worked decades for Respondent. He claimed he developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndrome and bilateral cubital tunnel syndrome due to the forceful repetitive nature of his work. His two treating physicians both recommended surgical releases.  Petitioner testified at great length that the nature of his work as a boiler operator involved many forceful, repetitive and varied job duties. Petitioner’s two treating physicians both testified that his job duties were repetitive and forceful in nature and were causally related to his conditions of ill-being.  He had no trial witnesses.

Defense Strategy: Respondent never disputed the varied nature of Petitioner’s job duties. In fact, these job duties were key to our defense and was an “Achilles Heel” weakness in his claim. Respondent called three longtime employee witnesses who all testified that Petitioner’s job duties were diverse and varied day by day, included very long periods of walking, using a computer, taking breaks, with many scheduled days off. Dr. Vender offered a fully informed expert opinion that the job tasks offered no significant exposure to forceful, repetitive activities and Petitioner spent much time just walking and observing. Petitioner’s two treating physicians were unable to testify with any specificity regarding Petitioner’s actual job duties.  The Arbitrator emphasized their lack of knowledge regarding the essential details of his work and what Petitioner actually did. Neither physician reviewed a job description or even discussed with Petitioner his actual job duties. Dr. Vender did and the Arbitrator noted his greater credibility in having more facts to support his opinions.

Trial Lessons: “Repetitive Trauma” claims require strict medical causation proof, but Petitioner was unable to meet this burden.  Instead of showing that he engaged in specific, forceful, repetitive type work with details, he showed he engaged in multiple and varied activities. His expert witnesses showed a striking lack of even minimal knowledge of what Petitioner was doing at work. Their opinions lacked foundation. Respondent, however, planned its defense: its witnesses were prepared and testified credibly; an informed expert medical opinion was obtained; the vulnerabilities in the weak and uninformed opinions of the two treating physicians were attacked. In the end, the Arbitrator and the the Commission agreed with Respondent that Petitioner failed to meet his burden of proof.


Very truly yours,