1 The Ridge Review Letter from the Editor Welcome to the May 2012 issue of the Ridge Review. Please join us to learn more about important issues related to personal injury and workers compensation in Illinois. In this issue we will discuss the rights of employees who are injured while traveling for their jobs, as well as explore the dangers of certain knee replacement hardware and trucking accidents. We will introduce you to Meghan O Brien, an attorney practicing in our Chicago office and read about several recent interesting cases successfully handled by our firm. Learn about the latest attacks on the Illinois Workers Compensation Act and lastly, read about my latest adventure. Cheered on by Karin Connelly and Matthew Coleman, I joined the Illinois State Troopers Lodge #41 by shaving my head at a St. Baldrick s event, raising money for children stricken with cancer. Remember, if you have a topic that you would like us to address, and we will be happy to try to write about it in one of our next issues. Also, be sure to log on to our website so you can receive the Ridge Review and our monthly updates via . Best regards, INSIDE THIS ISSUE MAY 2012 James M. Ridge & Assoc., P.C. Letter from the Editor 1 Your Rights: Traveling Employee Exception 1 In the Community: St. Baldrick s 2 Attorney Spotlight: Meghan O Brien 2 Recent Successes 3 Trucking Accidents in Illinois 4 Recall of the Zimmer knee replacement 4 Calendar 5 Labor & Politics: Legislative Update 5 R& A James M. Ridge & Associates, P.C. Attorneys at Law 101 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 200, Chicago, IL Toll free (800) Your Rights: Traveling Employee Exception Travel is often a necessary part of employment. Meetings, seminars, conferences, and training opportunities may require travel. Injuries to employees whose job duties require them to travel away from their primary place of employment are not governed by the same rules that are applicable to employees who work in a single location. There is an often overlooked concept in workers compensation law known as the traveling employee exception. When using this exception, the determination of whether an employee s injury is related to his/her employment depends on the reasonableness of the conduct that resulted in the injury and whether the conduct would normally be anticipated or foreseen by the employer when an employee is traveling. There are several instances where this exception has allowed for favorable verdicts for injured workers. One notable case is Bagcraft Corp. v. Industrial Commission, where an employee was visiting a paper mill as a representative of his company. The employee was housed overnight with other employees at a lodge that offered recreational activities in which many of the employees participated. One of the activities offered was a ride on an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV). Unfortunately, the employee was involved in an accident on his ATV and ultimately died. Applying the traveling employee exception as guidance, the Appellate Court ultimately found in the employee s favor. Similarly, Ridge & Associates successfully persuaded the Illinois Appellate Court to hold that our client, a firefighter attending an out-of-town seminar, was considered a traveling employee. While traveling, the firefighter s co-worker initiated horseplay activities, which were found to be reasonable and foreseeable. As such, he was awarded all of his benefits due under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. Cases that involve traveling employees are very fact-specific. As such, an insurance company will undoubtedly look for ways to deny payment of benefits. If you find yourself in a situation involving an injury that occurred while on employment-related business or travel, it is best that you contact an attorney immediately to ensure that your rights are protected and you are afforded all appropriate benefits under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act.
2 In the Community: St. Baldrick s On March 17, 2000, founders of the St. Baldrick's Foundation added a twist to their annual St. Patrick's Day party, changing it to a head-shaving event to benefit kids with cancer. Their 20 "shavee" recruits planned to raise "$17,000 on the 17th." Instead, they raised over $104,000. The movement quickly grew into the world s largest volunteerdriven fundraising program for childhood cancer research, and today the St. Baldrick's Foundation funds more childhood cancer research grants than any organization except the U.S. government. Since 2000, more than 189,660 volunteers - including over 17,200 women - have shaved in solidarity with children with cancer at events in dozens of countries and every U.S. state. Thanks to generous friends and family, these shavees have raised over $117 million for life-saving research, and each is a walking billboard for the cause. For the fifth year, Illinois Trooper Lodge District Chicago organized a head shaving team for St. Baldrick's. This year s event was held at the Kerry Piper in Willowbrook, Illinois, on March 18th. Troopers, as well as their sons, daughters, nephews, fathers, and friends of ISP employees joined the team. In total, 59 people registered for Team Trooper. This was the first year an adult female shaved her head for the team. Team Captain, Sgt. Rich Decker, reported that this was a record year for the team s fund raising efforts. Team Trooper raised $27,194, easily being named the top fund raiser for the event. Since organizing Team Trooper in 2008, Decker stated that the team had raised $88,872 for research. Attorney Spotlight: Meghan O Brien The before and after of Jim getting his head shaved at the Kerry Piper in support of St. Baldrick s Foundation to raise money to fight childhood cancers. This year Jim Ridge joined them and volunteered to have his thick locks shaved off to support the fight against cancer. He called, ed, and nagged his friends and family looking for sponsors. It worked - thanks to generous donations Mr. Ridge raised $1, To learn more about the St. Baldrick's foundation or to volunteer please logon to Meghan joined the law firm of James M. Ridge & Associates in February of Meghan graduated cum laude from Loyola University Chicago in 2002, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and a Certificate in Urban Life and Policy Studies. She earned her J.D. from the Chicago-Kent College of Law in During law school, she was consistently on the Dean's List and worked as a legal extern at the Cook County Public Guardian and the Criminal Defense Clinic at Chicago-Kent. At Ridge & Associates, Meghan has conducted numerous trials and successfully argued cases before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission and the Illinois Appellate Court. Meghan is an appointed member of the Illinois State Bar Association's Young Lawyers Council, where she currently serves as the Vice Chairperson. In June 2012, she will become Chairperson of this Council. She is also a member of the American Bar Association and the Chicago Bar Association. Meghan is admitted to practice law in the State of Illinois and the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. She was recently admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court. Meghan is a professional figure skater and skates for a local ice theater company, Ice Semble Chicago. She is a past member of the Associates Board of The Christopher House, a local organization dedicated to assisting lowincome families.
3 Recent Successes Amylee Hogan Simonovich recently won a fully-disputed case in DeKalb, Illinois. Petitioner worked in packing for Respondent for 6 years. After spending four months as a Quality Analyst, she became quite deconditioned. When she returned to manual labor lifting 20-pound wooden pallets, she began to experience pain in her shoulder. Petitioner reported her pain to a supervisor and was directed to seek medical attention at the company clinic. Respondent s human resources manager advised that company clinic that she believed Petitioner s shoulder pain was caused by her transfer into the packing position after not having been required to do a lot of manual labor as a quality analyst. Further, the occupational health clinic documented the history of Petitioner s job change and referred her to an orthopaedic physician for treatment of her shoulder strain. After 8 months of conservative treatment, Petitioner ultimately underwent surgical intervention. After successfully completing rehabilitation, she was able to return to full duty. Respondent defended the matter on the theory that Petitioner did not sustain an accident. However, injuries sustained by repetitive trauma, such as repetitive lifting, are compensable under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act. Respondent s own HR manager admitted that Petitioner s job duties caused her pain. Respondent also obtained an Independent Medical Examination that indicated Petitioner s injury was probably pre-existing, even though the physician was unaware of any prior injuries or conditions. Finally, Respondent called Petitioner s exhusband to testify against her, falsely claiming that she rode ATVs and motorcycles during the time that she was disabled. In sum, Respondent offered no evidence that Petitioner was injured in any other way than she claimed. The Arbitrator found Petitioner s injury compensable and awarded her over $30,000 in temporary total disability benefits for lost time, over $25,000 in medical benefits, and 35% loss of use of her right arm for ongoing permanent disability as a result of her injury. Andrew Bell recently settled a case for a delivery driver for over $90,000. The worker was injured when she was removing a computer desk from her delivery van. The 80 lbs. table shifted and threw the worker out of the van causing her to fall and twist her left leg. After an arthroscopy failed to give lasting improvement, she underwent a total knee replacement. The claimant was then put on permanent restrictions following a Functional Capacity Evaluation. She was able to find a different job that could accommodate her restrictions, but she earned a wage below what she made at her prior employer. Therefore, we were able to obtain compensation based on the difference of what she had been making and what she was currently able to make. Moreover, we avoided possible credit for future injuries to her leg. James Ridge & Caroleann Gallagher were successful in representing two Cook County correctional officers in a claim that is important to law enforcement officers statewide. The officers were injured in a motor vehicle accident as they were returning to their jail facility from their lunch break. The officers were travelling in one of the officer s personal vehicles, when the car was hit by a drunk driver, causing them both to sustain severe physical injuries. The case was strenuously defended from the outset by Cook County, on the basis that because the officers were returning from their lunch break, they were not on duty, and therefore, the accident did not arise out of and in the course of their employment with the County. Cook County refused to pay any of the officers medical bills or temporary total disability payments for the periods of time that they lost from work. Both officers were assigned to a jail facility and their onehour lunch breaks were assigned to them by a supervisor. The officers are permitted to leave the jail facility for lunch off-site, if they so choose. If they opt to leave the facility, they must return within one hour and they can be subject to discipline for being late. Pursuant to a General Order issued by the County, they are required to carry their radios with them at all times. Furthermore, they are required to sign out and then sign back in on their return to the facility. When both officers left the facility they remained in their uniforms and carried both their radios and their weapons with them. Their radios were switched on as was required pursuant to the General Order. Testimony was given at trial that an officer s radio is considered to be a part of their uniform and must remain switched on and on the officers person at all times during the officers entire tour of duty. The officers can be called back to the facility at any time during their lunch break and are held to the standards of a sworn officer while in uniform. They further have a duty to act in an emergency or if they observe the commission of a crime. The Arbitrator held that because the correctional officers remained in their uniforms, had their weapons and their radios with them, were subject to discipline if they did not conduct themselves accordingly, and were required to respond to any emergency, that they were on-duty, and therefore, the accident that they were involved in was one that arose out of and in the course of their employment. He found that they were entitled to a permanency award for the injuries sustained, temporary total disability payments for the periods of time they missed from work, and payment all of their medical bills. This decision was only handed down last week and it can be appealed within a 30-day period by the Respondent. We expect that the decision will be appealed and will keep you advised of any developments in this important case.
4 Recall of the Zimmer knee replacement In September 2010, The Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") issued a Class II recall of certain surgical techniques related to a specific tibial plate component Zimmer, Inc. designed and manufactured for use in connection with certain NexGen High-Flex knee replacements. This recall is only for a specific component piece associated with Zimmer's knee products. However, some patients have reported additional problems. Dr. Richard A. Berger, a respected orthopedic surgeon and consultant of Zimmer, first began using Zimmer s NexGen CR-Flex system in 2005, and implanted the device into 125 patients in the first year. In 2006, X-rays revealed that the Zimmer knee replacements were not fusing fully with the thighbone. Although patients were able to walk, they reported pain that was later alleged to be caused by the loose joint. Dr. Berger reported his findings to Zimmer, however, the company did not confirm the problem since the NexGen CR-Flex knee replacement system had not been clinically tested on patients before it was sold. Dr. Berger then performed a study of his own, finding that approximately 9.3% of all NexGen CR-Flex failed prematurely, requiring additional surgery. It is estimated that since 2003, the NexGen CR-Flex and LPS-Flex knee replacement has been implanted in more than 150,000 patients. Some patients have already reported experiencing knee implant problems including: serious or ongoing pain, infection, swelling and loosening or dislocation of the implant. In December of 2010, the FDA issued a second recall impacting certain component parts associated with several Zimmer knee replacement parts including the NexGen LPS-Flex. The recall involved manufacturing problems associated with the NexGen LPS-Flex that could result in premature failure. If you or someone you know had this device implanted, you may be entitled to compensation. If you have any questions please contact us. Trucking accidents in Illinois Each year, thousands of motorists are critically injured when passenger vehicles and commercial trucks collide. As the number of commercial trucks on the road steadily increase every year, inevitably so will the number of serious accidents. A collision with a large truck can be devastating for the driver and any passengers in the car. The truck's sheer size and power leave the car s passengers at risk for serious personal injuries or even death. In 2008, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported 144 fatal crashes with large trucks in Illinois. Federal and state codes, designed specifically to protect motorists from the negligence of untrained commercial truck drivers and trucking companies, regulate the safe operation of large trucks. At Ridge & Associates, we are familiar with those laws and regulations and can provide well informed advice to you or any of your loved ones who have been involved in a trucking accident in Illinois. Trucking accidents can happen for a variety of reasons, which vary from relatively simple errors, such as excessive speed, driver fatigue or inexperienced driving, to more complicated and serious reasons, which include, ignoring regulations that require companies to limit the number of hours their drivers are on the road, carrying excessive or unsafe loads and drug or alcohol use on the part of the driver. In addition, the list of possible defendants in a trucking accident goes beyond just the driver of the truck. The company that owns the truck can also be held liable, as can the owner of the load, the owner of the trailer carrying the load, the truck manufacturer, the tire distributor, or others, depending on the cause and circumstances of the accident. The law limits the time you have to pursue a legal action against a negligent party so it is important to obtain sound legal advice as soon as possible. More importantly, it is imperative to obtain quick access to the evidence and witnesses surrounding a trucking accident, as this will often be a crucial factor in winning a case. In addition, trucking companies and their insurance carriers will have investigators in place within hours of an accident occurring. At Ridge & Associates, we have the knowledge, resources and expertise to handle any question you may have surrounding this important area of personal injury law so please do not hesitate to call us if you have further questions about this area of the law.
5 We will be available for FREE consultations on the following dates: June 6 IAM Lodge 48 IAM Lodge 1487, 50 W. Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL 7:00 pm 7 Teamsters Local N.E. Frontage Rd., Joliet, IL 1:30 4:30 pm 8 Laborers Local Broadway St., Pekin, IL 7:00 pm 13 IAM Lodge 1557 Holiday Inn, 495 Airport Road, Elgin, IL 6:30 pm 14 Teamsters Local nd St., Rock Island, IL 8:30 11:30 am 17 IAM Lodge S. Thomas Dillon Dr., Channahon, IL 10:00 am 18 Teamsters Local N. Allen Rd., Peoria, IL 10:30 12:00 pm 18 Labor Temple 2243 Grand Ave., Galesburg, IL 3:00 5:00 pm July 2 IAM Lodge 2125 Hampton Inn & Suites, 1400 Milwaukee Ave., Lincolnshire, IL 7:00 pm 5 Teamsters Local N.E. Frontage Rd., Joliet, IL 1:30 4:30 pm 10 IBEW Local N. 5 th Ave., Kankakee, IL 1:00 3:30 pm 10 IAM Lodge 49 VFW Post 2255, S. Ridgeland Ave., Chicago Ridge, IL 7:00 pm 16 Teamsters Local N. Allen Rd., Peoria, IL 10:30 12:00 pm 16 Labor Temple 2243 Grand Ave., Galesburg, IL 3:00 5:00 pm August 1 IAM Lodge 48 IAM Lodge 1487, 50 W. Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL 7:00 pm 2 Teamsters Local N.E. Frontage Rd., Joliet, IL 1:30 4:30 pm 9 Teamsters Local nd St., Rock Island, IL 8:30 11:30 am 20 Teamsters Local N. Allen Rd., Peoria, IL 10:30 12:00 pm 20 Labor Temple 2243 Grand Ave., Galesburg, IL 3:00 5:00 pm September 5 IAM Lodge 48 IAM Lodge 1487, 50 W. Oakton St., Des Plaines, IL 7:00 pm 6 Teamsters Local N.E. Frontage Rd., Joliet, IL 1:30 4:30 pm 11 IBEW Local N. 5 th Ave., Kankakee, IL 1:00 3:30 pm 11 IAM Lodge 49 VFW Post 2255, S. Ridgeland Ave., Chicago Ridge, IL 7:00 pm 12 IAM Lodge 1557 Holiday Inn, 495 Airport Road, Elgin, IL 6:30 pm 13 Teamsters Local nd St., Rock Island, IL 8:30 11:30 am 16 IAM Lodge S. Thomas Dillon Dr., Channahon, IL 10:00 am 17 Teamsters Local N. Allen Rd., Peoria, IL 10:30 12:00 pm 17 Labor Temple 2243 Grand Ave., Galesburg, IL 3:00 5:00 pm Our Attorneys James M. Ridge Karin K. Connelly John E. Mitchell Raymond C. Rose Meghan N. O Brien Douglas Petrovic Matthew J. Coleman Caroleann Gallagher* Amylee Hogan Simonovich Andrew T. Bell *Also Licensed in Ireland Of Counsel James P. Hoffman Thomas J. Flanagan Terrence M. Rubino Thomas E. Schooley Ernest J. Maurizi Office Manager Karen A. DeWitt Legislative Update Even though the last session of the General Assembly resulted in unprecedented changes to the Illinois Workers Compensation Act, certain lawmakers have introduced legislation that will further limit the ability of workers to seek compensation from their employer when they are injured on the job. SB 2521 (McCarter R) seeks to prevent a worker, whose injury resulted in the aggravation of a pre-existing condition, from recovering benefits, including medical treatment; it would impose strict usage of the AMA guidelines in determining permanent disability, precluding an Arbitrator from using the injured person s medical records to determine the extent of their disability and forces an injured worker to be treated by the employer s preferred provider program. This bill was passed out of the Labor Committee on Special Issues and was reassigned to the Executive Committee where it currently waits for further action. Please contact your representatives in Springfield know that you do not support SB In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, we d like to send you this newsletter and other updates by . Please send your address to
6 James M. Ridge & Assoc., P.C. 101 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 200 Chicago, Illinois Presort STD US Postage PAID Permit # 3347 Chicago, IL James M. Ridge & Assoc., P.C. Chicago Office: 101 N. Wacker Drive, Suite 200 Chicago, IL Phone: (312) Fax: (312) Peoria Office: 415 N.E. Jefferson Avenue Peoria, IL Phone: (309) Fax: (309) James M. Ridge & Associates, P.C., is a Chicago-based firm with a state-wide practice concentrating in: Workers Compensation Personal Injury Construction Accident Negligence Asbestos-Related Disease Medical Malpractice Social Security Disability Claims We re on the Web! Visit us at: Contact us today for a free consultation! No appointment necessary. No fee until there is a recovery.