Synopsis: Carpal tunnel claim affirmed on manifest weight in case involving trucker tying down
Editor's comment: This case demonstrates:
1. Why it is virtually impossible to successfully defend carpal tunnel claims because the
Commission stretches causation as far as it can possibly be stretched to give every conceivable
benefit of the doubt to Petitioner. This truck driver spent 5-15 minutes per day doing the
tasks they claimed caused this condition. We consider it comical to believe his medical problems
related to that short period of work each day. Unless you have extremely unusual facts, our
message to defense observers on garden-variety carpal tunnel or repetitive trauma claims is to
quietly accept and pay them. Don't force your employee to go to counsel because there are no
justiciable issues requiring attorney involvement on either side and you should save money at
every step. We expect Petitioner's attorneys are going to reply to tell us we shouldn't advise
defense clients to avoid lawyers on both sides. However, if all claims are 100% compensable, we
feel this is the only responsible advice.
2. We are advising all defense observers current decisions of the Workers'
Compensation Commission providing benefits are final and irreversible in the Appellate and
Supreme Courts on any issue relating to factual determinations. Please note all five Appellate
Court justices joined in this decision--there is no counterpoint for Illinois business on the
panel. You may have a shot on appeal if you are arguing legal issues. We are awaiting the
outcome of the Supreme Court's decision in Vill v. Industrial Commission to see if the
reviewing courts are going to strictly adhere to this rule in weighing IWCC decisions denying
3. We want to caution all defense observers not to put too much hope into workers' compensation
legislation that "raises the bar" on issues relating to compensability of repetitive trauma or carpal
tunnel claims. During the current IWCC administration, we feel that a standard requiring the
employee to show the work was the "principal cause" or "majority cause" of the condition will be
treated just as radically in awarding benefits as this decision. It is now 83-5/7 weeks to the next
gubernatorial election. Start marshalling your political resources to get an IWCC and reviewing
panel that are bipartisan (as the Act and Rules contemplate) and will work for your interests.
In Edward Hines Precision Components v. Industrial Commission (No. 2-04-0608WC March
24, 2005), the Industrial Commission Division of the Appellate Court affirmed the Commission
finding that claimant’s carpal tunnel syndrome was causally related to repetitive trauma at work
tying down loads based on the testimony of claimant and his treating physician. The unanimous
majority found the IWCC's decision was not against the "manifest weight of the evidence"
despite the claim of Edward Hines Precision Components that the employee's activity allegedly
causing the condition represented only a small percentage of activity during work day.
The decision is on the web at: