Articles & Updates

Guy Roberts vs. Southern Illinois Airport Authority

by James M. Gallen

Petitioner worked as a maintenance person and handyman for Southern Illinois Airport during which he performed a wide variety of janitorial duties including maintenance and repair of blocks, plumbing, drywall, snow removal, grass mowing and tree trimming.  Petitioner developed bilateral carpal tunnel syndromes and underwent a right carpal tunnel release. 

The petitioner’s treating doctor gave an opinion causally connecting petitioner’s work with the development of his carpal tunnel syndromes.  The treating surgeon based his causation opinion on a history that petitioner did a lot of tree trimming, performing this duty eight months out of the year, three days a week and up to three to four hours a day.  He also stated he operated heavy machinery/equipment 12 months out of the year for an average 2 to 6 hours per day.  He also said that he would to remove the snow from the runways and that he used his hand tools such as shovels, picks and racks 12 months out of the year 2 to 4 hours a day, 3 to 4 days a week.  He also stated that he did painting and dry wall 20 hours a week for 12 months of the year.

Petitioner presented two co-workers as witnesses.  They testified that tree trimming was performed once or twice a year.  His witnesses presented conflicting testimony as to whether or not petitioner used a chain saw.  The petitioner’s witnesses also testified that the painting and drywall was done once or twice a year, usually when a tenant moved out and that the drywall work usually involved patching holes.  Petitioner testified that there was a major storm in 2011, which was the year during which he developed his symptoms.  His witnesses testified that the big storm was in 2009.  The petitioner’s witnesses testified that the runways were clear of the snow 5 to 10 days per year using a plow and that shoveling of the sidewalks was contracted out although petitioner and the other workers would have to apply salt and do touch ups in spots that were not completely shoveled. 

Based on this evidence the Arbitrator found that petitioner’s job description and history provided to his treating doctor were contradicted by his own witnesses therefore the description of the job duties was not credible.  Because the treating doctor’s opinion was based on an inaccurate history the Claim for Compensation was denied.

This Decision has been affirmed by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.