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Can You Believe It? Ill. Top Court Awarded Worker Benefits for Loss of Use of Testicles after Penis-Crushing Work Injury

27 Apr, 2023 Frank Ferreri

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Sarasota, FL ( -- Every now and then when you're meandering through some legal research on workers' compensation and what courts have decided, you come across something that stands out.

Take the case of an Illinois worker who, back in the 1970s was leaning over a table approximately 30 inches high while inspecting parts. As the worker performed this inspection task, a box fell on his penis, crushing the organ between the box and the table.

At the time, the worker was 60 years old and the "natural father of three children." Following the injury, the worker wasn't able to have intercourse due to his penis swelling and causing "much pain when the sexual act is attempted."

Prior to the injury, the worker reported have no problems related to "this organ" and stated that he had marital relations two or three times per week.

The employer sent the worker to a doctor, who found that the worker had Peyronie's disease, which can be caused by injury. The doctor noted that the organ had a scar plaque on the dorsum of the base of the penis and a circumferential thickening of the entire circumference. The testicles were "normal."

The last part was important because, the Industrial Commission in Illinois found that the worker had sustained an actual injury resulting in permanent and complete loss of both testicles. On appeal to court, that award was set aside.

Thus, it was up to the state's Supreme Court to determine whether there was damage to the "testicles proper."

So, what did the court decide?

First, it looked to precedent:

  1. Northwestern Barb Wire Co. v. Industrial Commission, 353 Ill. 371 (Ill. 1933). In this case, a worker's testicles were torn out of the scrotum but were replaced by means of skin grafting. The worker experienced no sexual sensations thereafter and was without any normal desire for intercourse. In that case, even though there was no actual physical loss thanks to the skin graft, the court held that an award was due when the "normal use of a member had been destroyed."
  2. Moushon v. National Garages Inc., 9 Ill. 2d 407 (Ill. 1956). This case involved a worker who suffered a ruptured urethra at work, and he was rendered impotent. The court in that case explained that a claim for compensation wasn't limited to the "loss of both testicles, but covers also their permanent and complete loss of use."
  3. Guy Johnston Construction Co. v. Kennedy, 387 A.2d 658 (Del. 1972). There, the employee's injuries involved his back and pelvic area, but the compensation award was for the loss of use of any member or part of the body. As the court explained, "The sexual organ is a specific identifiable member or organ of the body, and loss of its use is compensable."

Announcing that its role was "circumscribed," the Illinois Supreme Court did not believe that the commission's award in the worker's favor was contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. As a result, the court reinstated the worker's award for "permanent and complete loss of both testicles."

The case was A.O. Smith Corp. v. Industrial Commission, 69 Ill. 2d 240 (Ill. 1977).

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    About The Author

    • Frank Ferreri

      Frank Ferreri, M.A., J.D. covers workers' compensation legal issues. He has published books, articles, and other material on multiple areas of employment, insurance, and disability law. Frank received his master's degree from the University of South Florida and juris doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. Frank encourages everyone to consider helping out the Kind Souls Foundation and Kids' Chance of America.

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