WCLA Case Law Summaries

  • 03/20/2020 8:46 AM | Judy Pfeiffer (Administrator)

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    McCarty v. Illinois State University, 19 I.W.C.C. 0375 (July 23, 2019)

    The Arbitrator found that Petitioner sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of her employment when she slipped on stairs as her work qualitatively and quantitively placed her at a greater risk of injury than the general public.  The Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the Arbitrator.

    Petitioner was employed as a building service worker for Respondent.   Petitioner’s job duties included janitorial and cleaning assignments.  On November 25, 2015, Petitioner was working in a 28-story dormitory for the university.  The dormitory consisted of 5 houses and an elevator stopped on the third floor of each house.  In order to reach the other two floors, Petitioner had to traverse stairs.  The stair surfaces were concrete and covered in a metal slate.  On the alleged date of injury, Petitioner claimed the dormitory was insufficiently staffed so Petitioner had to cover an extra area, including a stairway.  Petitioner had to traverse the stairs to perform her work on her regular floors and the extra areas.  She also traversed the stairs to replenish cleaning supplies.  Petitioner claimed she was moving faster than normal and while traversing the staircase and carrying cleaning materials she slipped on the stairs and twisted her right foot.

    The Arbitrator found that Petitioner was subjected to an increased risk resulting from an increased workload because of staffing deficiencies requiring Petitioner to increase the frequency and manner (speed) when using the stairs.  The Arbitrator found this quantitively and qualitatively increased her risk.  The Arbitrator also found that using stairs were the only means of travel between most floors.


    Almanza v. Caterpillar, Inc., 19 I.W.C.C. 0396 (July 30, 2019)

    The Arbitrator found that Petitioner sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of his employment when he was “hurrying” upstairs to complete a task on a backed-up assembly line when he turned to go up the stairs he felt a pop and pain in his left knee. The Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.

    Petitioner was employed by Respondent as an assembler.  Petitioner worked on a line fairly new to him and he fell behind on his duties.  A coworker agreed to assist the Petitioner but advised him to hurry as he had his own work to complete.  The coworker was on a platform near Petitioner.  To  assist the coworker, the Petitioner rushed up stairs and as he turned to go up the stairs he felt a pop and pain in his left knee.  Petitioner testified he recalled this happening on April 20, 2012.  Respondent argued that the accident occurred on April 19, 2012 based upon testimony of the Section Manager who testified petitioner informed him that on April 19, 2012 he felt a pop in his left knee when he was walking. 

    The Arbitrator found that the date of accident was April 19, 2012 and found that Petitioner’s left knee injury arose out of and in the course of his employment based upon an incident report of May 1, 2012 when an on-site nurse documented that Petitioner was ascending stairs when his left knee popped.  A witness, who testified on behalf of Petitioner, supported Petitioner’s testimony that he was working quickly and that he noticed pain in the left knee while on a stair.  The Arbitrator found that the Petitioner was hurrying upstairs to complete a task which arose of his employment. 

    The Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the Arbitrator.

    DeLeon v. Fresenius Medical Care, 19 I.W.C.C. 0365 (July 19, 2019)

    The Arbitrator found that Petitioner failed to prove that she sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of her employment on December 2, 2010.  On review, the Commission reversed the Arbitrator and found the Petitioner did sustain accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of her employment.  The Commission found that the Petitioner’s slip and fall on ice in a parking lot occurred in the course of her employment.

    Petitioner was a patient care technician for the Respondent working with dialysis patients.  Respondent’s facility was located in an office building shared by a childcare center and vascular clinic.  There was a parking lot where members of the public and employees could park.  The parking lot was not owned, maintained or controlled by the Respondent.  Witnesses testified there were no specific parking spots designated for employees.  Petitioner and a co-worker arrived at work at 4:00 a.m. on December 22.  It was dark and the parking lot was icy and slippery.  Petitioner walked from her parking spot to the door to enter the Respondent’s facilities.  As Petitioner approached the door she slipped on ice and fell.  The co-worker testified that the heshe saw Petitioner  fall partially on the sidewalk and partially on the parking lot.

    The Arbitrator found that Petitioner’s fall did not arise out of her employment.  The Arbitrator noted the Petitioner did not fall on Respondent’s premises (either the sidewalk or parking lot).  The Arbitrator noted Respondent did not own or maintain the area where Petitioner fell and the parking lot was open to the general public.  The Arbitrator also found the Respondent did not require Petitioner to use the entrance and the Respondent did not direct the Petitioner to park in the area where she parked.

    The Commission on review reversed the Arbitrator’s decision.  In determining whether the Petitioner’s accident was in the course of employment, the Commission found the parking lot was part of the employer’s premises.  “Additionally, there is no dispute that Respondent's employees customarily park in the parking lot. In similar circumstances, the Illinois Supreme Court determined that "if the employer provides a parking lot which is customarily used by its employees, the employer is responsible for the maintenance and control of that parking lot.   De Hoyas v. Indus. Comm'n, 26 Ill. 2d 110, 113 (1962).  After analyzing the relevant facts, the Commission finds the parking lot is part of the employer's premises” 

    The Commission found the accident arose out of Petitioner’s employment as the Petitioner’s injuries resulted directly from the “hazardous” condition of the parking lot.

    Hasan v. Eagle Sports Range, 18 I.W.C.C. 02799 (August 16, 2019)

    The Arbitrator found that Petitioner’s injuries arose out of and in the course of his employment.  The Commission affirmed and adopted the decision of the Arbitrator.

    Petitioner worked as a salesperson and firearms instructor for Respondent’s gun store.  Respondent also had an on-site firing range.  Petitioner had an Illinois Concealed Carry permit and an instructor’s permit.  On October 25, 2017, the Petitioner clocked into work, loaded bullets into an ammunition clip, loaded the clip into a pistol and “racked” the pistol (advancing a bullet into the firing chamber).  As Petitioner holstered the firearm, the pistol discharged and a bullet went into Petitioner’s right leg.

    The Arbitrator found the Petitioner was in the course of his employment when the gun discharged as he had clocked in and holstered his gun so he could go on the sales floor to do his job duties.  The Arbitrator also found that Petitioner’s injury arose out of his employment since the risk of injury was incidental to his employment.  Respondent encouraged employees to wear loaded firearms on its premises.  Employees being armed discouraged any robberies and made potential customers comfortable being around employees that displayed guns and wore guns.

    Lannon v. I.W.C.C. and S&C Electric Co. 2020 Ill. App. (1st D.) 181903WC

    In an unpublished decision of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, the Court affirmed the Circuit Court’s reversal of the Commission finding that Petitioner failed to establish that he sustained accidental injuries arising out of and in the course of his employment.

    Petitioner worked as a general machinist for the Respondent.  On May 2, 2016, the Petitioner was operating a press machine.  He reached to pull a lever down when something popped in his left shoulder.

    The Arbitrator found Petitioner sustained an accidental injury and awarded benefits including prospective medical care.  The Commission on review reversed the Arbitrator’s decision finding that the Petitioner was injured while “reaching,” which the Commission characterized as a “neutral risk,” and that Petitioner failed to prove that his reaching performed at work was qualitatively or quantitatively different from that of the general public.

    The Circuit Court of Cook County reversed the decision of the Commission.  The Circuit Court in a de novo review standard agreed with the Commission that the act of reaching is a neutral risk. Contrary to the Commission, the Circuit Court found the Petitioner’s job duties required him to reach up and pull a lever down on a machine hundreds of times per day (quantitatively different from the general public).

    Petitioner testified he pulled the levers between 100 and 200 times per day.  When he pulled the lever down on the date of the accident, he felt something pop in his left shoulder. 

    The Appellate Court first determined that the Circuit Court applied the incorrect standard of review and should have determined whether the Commission decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence.  The Appellate Court determined there were material facts in dispute.  In reviewing the Commission’s decision, using the manifest weight standard, the Court found that the Commissioner erroneously found that the Petitioner’s reaching was not qualitatively or quantitively different from the general public.  The Court stated, “risks are distinctly associated with the claimant’s employment whenever the injury-producing act was required by the claimant’s specific job duties, even if the injury-producing act is an activity of daily living, like reaching or pulling.”  The Court determined that the McAlister v. IWCC, 430 Ill. Dec. 434 (1st D. 2019) decision meant that “if the injury producing act was required by the claimant’s job duties, the claimant has established an accidental injury arising out of his employment by that fact alone, and there is no need to perform a neutral risk analysis.”  The Court, in dicta, stated even if McAlister is overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court, the Petitioner proved that his neutral risk activities were quantitively different from the general public.

    Purcell v. University of Illinois 19. I.W.C.C. 0432 (August 13, 2019)

    The Arbitrator found that the Petitioner was not a traveling employee and that Petitioner’s injury that occurred when she was walking to a personnel services building of the Respondent and attempted to hop over a chain barrier fence did not arise out of her employment.  The Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.

    Petitioner worked as an administrative assistant for the Respondent.  Petitioner claimed her job required her to leave her office in the undergraduate library daily to perform duties around the campus.  Petitioner would generally walk to other buildings on the campus or take a bus.  She decided what routes to take and managed her own schedule.  On the day of injury, Petitioner took a bus to work and intended to go to the personal services building to drop off her timecard which she had to do every other Friday.  On her route, she  hopped over a chain fence when the heel of her shoe became caught and she fell dislocating her elbow.  Petitioner admitted on cross-examination she was an hourly employee and not paid for lunch or for travel to and from work.  Petitioner admitted about 10-15 feet to the left of where she fell there was no fence.

    The Arbitrator found that Petitioner’s job did not require her to leave the office building unless requested by her supervisor who testified this was uncommon for petitioner.  Her supervisor also testified Petitioner could return her timecard during any time of the day.  The Arbitrator cited the Dodson v. Industrial Commission, 308 Ill. App. 3rd 572 (5th D. 1999) case to support his finding that even if the petitioner was a traveling employee she exposed herself to an unnecessary danger by hopping over a fence when just 15 feet away she did not need to do so.

    Bruno v. Conifer Care Continuom Solutions, LLC. 19 I.W.C.C. 0424 (August 8, 2019)

    The Arbitrator denied that Petitioner sustained an accident arising out of her employment when Petitioner reached behind her while sitting on a toilet to flush the toilet with a malfunctioning handle.  The Commission reversed.

    Petitioner worked for a third-party medical billing representative for the Respondent.  On July 12, 2016, during her workday, she went to the ladies restroom located in an employee-only area.  While sitting on a toilet, she reached behind her with her right arm to flush the toilet.  Petitioner testified that the toilet did not immediately flush and she had to push the handle harder.  When Petitioner pushed the handle harder, she experienced a sharp pain in her right shoulder which traveled down her elbow.  The Arbitrator denied benefits and found that Petitioner failed to establish that she sustained a compensable accident.

    The Commission, in a 2-1 decision, found Petitioner’s injuries were compensable based on the personal comfort doctrine.  The Commission found that Petitioner was injured in the course of her employment as the injury occurred in facilities provided by the Respondent; Petitioner did not use the facilities in an unreasonable or unforeseen manner and Petitioner was attempting to flush a toilet with a malfunctioning handle.  The Commission found the injury arose out of Petitioner’s employment since flushing the toilet was a neutral risk and from a quantitative standpoint, the Petitioner was exposed to a greater risk of injury due to her employment given the frequency with which she was forced to utilize the facilities.   The Commission also noted that the handle malfunctioned and concluded that Petitioner was qualitatively exposed to a greater risk.

    The Dissenting Commissioner noted that the Arbitrator did not find Petitioner credible since her “accident” was unwitnessed and Petitioner waited 17 days before seeking any medical treatment.  The Petitioner also claimed that at the time she had to push the toilet handle she felt a “ripping” sensation in her shoulder.  The Dissenting Commissioner agreed that the Petitioner’s incident was in the course of her employment but did not arise out of her employment.  The Dissenting Commissioner noted that no evidence was submitted actually proving the toilet handle was defective – only testimony that sometimes it required more than one flush. 

    II.                OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE

    Goddard v. Emerald Performance Materials 19 I.W.C.C. 0430 (August 12, 2019)

    Woolsey v. Global Brass 19 I.W.C.C. 0461 (August 26, 2019)


    Parks v. Qual-A-Wash 19 I.W.C.C. 0420 (August 6, 2019)

    IV.             AVERAGE WEEKLY WAGE

    Beattie v. IWCC & St. Clair County Sheriff’s Dept.  2020 Ill. App. (5th D.) 190041WC

    V.                COMPUTATION OF AWARDS

    O’Kane v. City of Chicago, 19 I.W.C.C. 0374 (July 22, 2019)

    Carter v. Chicago Transit Authority 19 I.W.C.C. 0455 (August 23, 2019)


    Allen v. Ford Motor Company, 19 I.W.C.C. 0377 (July 23, 2019)

    McGrane v. Trane Chicago, 19 I.W.C.C. 0379 (July 24, 2019)

    Hoffman v. State of Illinois/Menard Correctional Center, 19 I.W.C.C. 0393 (July 25, 2019)

    Butler v. State of Illinois, Choate Mental Health 19 I.W.C.C. 0427 (August 8, 2019)


    Smith v. Superior Express, 19 I.W.C.C. 0417 (August 2, 2019)

    Cruse v. Choate Mental Health Center, 19 I.W.C.C. 0419 (August 6, 2019)


    Jones v. Ford Motor Company, 19 I.W.C.C. 0414 (August 2, 2019)

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  • 11/29/2019 11:30 AM | Judy Pfeiffer (Administrator)


    Buckley v. Molly Maids, 16 WC 32369, No 19 I.W.C.C. 0196 (April 18, 2019) 

    The Petitioner worked full time for the Respondent as a maid.   She worked there for nearly 20 years.   Her main duties included mopping, vacuuming, sanitizing kitchens and bathrooms, dusting mini-blinds, ceiling fans, cobwebs, baseboards and doorframes and unloading and reloading the car with supplies.   On the day of the incident she was dusting the levers of the mini-blinds and she was holding the bottom of the mini-blinds so she would get a good wipe on it but then it starting coming loose and she reached up too quick and that is when she felt a pop.   She noticed immediate pain in her left arm.  She notified her boss via text.   She went to the occupational health clinic on the day of the accident, that being September 21, 2016.    

    The Arbitrator denied the claim finding the activity was a neutral risk.    

    The Arbitrator determined, based on the facts nothing in the records suggested the Petitioner’s employment contributed to the risk of raising her arm so as to constitute a qualitative increase in the risk faced by the general public.   There was nothing in the record to indicate the Petitioner had to raise her arms more frequently than the general public.   The Arbitrator denied the claim.    

    On review the Commission reversed the Arbitrator’s Decision and found the activity being performed by the petitioner was an employment risk.   The Commission relied upon Mytnik v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, 2016 Ill. App. (1st) 152116WC.   

    In Mytnik the claimant worked on an assembly line where he installed rear suspension on vehicles using an articulating arm to fasten bolts and brackets.   At the time of his injury, the claimant was reaching down to grab a bolt that had fallen on the assembly line where he felt pain down the right side of his back and hip.  The Appellate Court found the act of bending may be an act performed by the general public on a daily basis, however, the evidence established that bolts would regularly fall out of the articulating arm during the assembly process and that the claimant had to run down there and bend over and reach and pick up before the rotating platform ran over it.   

    The Commission determined that the Petitioner’s act of raising her arm may have been an act performed by the general public on a daily basis however that was not the whole of the Petitioner’s testimony.   The petitioner testified that in the process of holding the bottom of the mini-blind, and then attempting to dust it the mini-blind became loose and she quickly reached upward with her left arm to prevent the mini-blind from falling.   The Commission ruled it was in error that the Arbitrator determined that nothing by way of the Petitioner’s employment contributed to the risk of raising her arm.    

    The Commission stated:  “Here, the act of dusting the mini-blind, was a required part of the Petitioner’s job duties.   There was no testimony or evidence to the contrary.  The fact the mini-blind had loosened, began to fall and Petitioner attempted to prevent the mini-blind from falling further by suddenly lifting her left arm was a risk incidental to, belonging to, and connected to Petitioner’s dusting duties.” 

    Maria E. Portela and Thomas J. Tyrrell authored the opinion and there was a dissent by Deborah Simpson.    

    Sims v. State of Illinois, Jacksonville Correctional Center, 17 WC 25254; 19 I.W.C.C. 0195 (April 18, 2019)  

    Arbitrator Hemenway denied the claim on the basis the Petitioner failed to prove the accident arose out of the employment.   The Petitioner was a correctional officer at the Jacksonville Correctional Center.   On December 18, 2016 he slipped on ice as he was returning from his “chow break” located in the gatehouse.  To get to the gatehouse he had to leave the tower, walk across the parking lot, and then walk on the sidewalk.   As he was returning from chow break he exited the gatehouse, walked down a long sidewalk, turned left and walked towards the parking lot.   He lost his footing before he got to the parking lot.   He testified everything was covered with snow and ice.    

    The path to the gatehouse was open to the public.   The petitioner testified the pathway is in a secure area of the prison.   He can eat in the break room or any other room where they are assigned to eat.   

    The Petitioner sought medical care.   The Arbitrator had found the Petitioner was exposed to a neutral risk and that the Petitioner failed to establish that he was exposed to a risk of falling snow and ice to a greater degree than that of the general public.   The Arbitrator also indicated the Petitioner failed to prove that the risk of falling on snow and ice while walking in a public lot was qualitatively or quantitatively increased due to his job duties.    

    The Commission reversed the Arbitrator and stated:  “However, a risk-analysis is unnecessary if the injury occurred on the employer’s premise due to an unsafe or hazardous condition.   Our Supreme Court has held that accidental injuries sustained on the employer’s premises within a reasonable time before or after work arise “in the course of” employment.   Archer Daniels Midland Co. v. Industrial Commission, 91 Ill.2d 210, 215, 437 N.E.2d 609, 62 Ill. Dec. 921 (1990).   Further, where the injury was due to the dangerous condition of the employer’s premises, courts have consistently approved an award of compensation.  Hiram Walker & Sons, Inc. v. Industrial Commission, 41 Ill.2d 429, 244 N.E.2d 179 (1968) holding that claimant’s fall in employer’s ice-covered parking lot was compensable; Mores-Harvey v. Industrial Commission, 345 Ill. App.3d 1034, 804 N.E. 2d 1086, 281 Ill. Dec. 791 (2004) (The presence of a hazardous condition on the employer’s premises that causes a claimant’s injury supports the finding of a compensable claim.”); Suter v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, 2013 Ill. App. (4th) 130049WC; 998 N.E.2d 971, 376 Ill. Dec. 261 (where the claimant slipped on ice in a parking lot furnished by employer shortly after she arrived at work, the claimant was entitled to benefits under the Act as a matter of law).    

    The Commission also stated:  “The fact that the walkway in the case at bar was also used by the general public is immaterial to the issue of compensability as petitioner’s injury was caused by a hazardous condition on the employer’s premises.”  The Commission goes on to state:  “(t)he hazardous condition on the employer’s premises renders the risk of injury incidental to employment without having to prove that she was exposed to the risk of that hazard to a greater extent than are members of the general public”. 

    In the present case, it was undisputed that the walkway where Petitioner fell was on the employer’s premises and that the walkway and parking lot were covered in snow and ice.  Petitioner’s testimony he slipped and fell on the ice was not rebutted by the Respondent and was bolstered by the Employer’s First Report of Injury and the contemporaneous medical record.  The Commission found that the injury was caused by the snow and ice which represented a dangerous condition or defect on the employer’s premises.   As there was a hazardous condition on the employer’s premises, a neutral risk analysis was not warranted.   Petitioner’s injury is a compensable claim. 

    The Commission then went on to state that they could have also found this case compensable under the “Personal Comfort Doctrine”.    

    The Commission then reviewed the medical evidence and took into consideration the 5 factors under Section 8.1(b) of the Act and awarded the petitioner 1% of a man as a whole.    

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  • 10/31/2019 11:25 AM | Judy Pfeiffer (Administrator)

    Arising Out of Employment:

    Crusoe v. Harper College, 27 ILWCLB 144 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner was a custodial services supervisor at a college. He was walking through a hallway en route to an inspection when his left knee got stuck in the carpet and buckled. On his investigation report, he noted that he was walking through the hallway when he heard his knee pop and was “clueless” about the cause of the incident. At trial, the Petitioner testified that the floor below the carpet was defective.

    The Arbitrator denied benefits because there was no mention of his knee getting stuck in the carpet in his initial treatment records and instead noted that he hurt himself while walking. Further, the Arbitrator indicated that if the carpet was defective, the Petitioner had ample time to provide notice or make a report as the custodial supervisor and never did. Because the Arbitrator found he hurt himself while walking and the act of walking does not expose him to an increased risk of injury compared to the general public, his injury did not arise out his employment. The Commission affirmed noting that he suffered from an idiopathic condition, which was a personal risk unrelated to his employment.

    Increased Risk:

    Stewart v. Jewel Food Stores / New Alberton’s Inc., 27 ILWCLB 145 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner worked in a “recoup room” in a warehouse recouping damaged product that could be salvaged. He initially reported that he injured himself after he tripped over a tote of product falling onto his tailbone. However, his medical records indicated that he hurt himself when he went to sit down on a chair and it rolled out from under him and / or that he tripped on a bench. The Arbitrator denied benefits based on the surveillance footage of the alleged accident. The footage showed the Petitioner attempt to sit down, miss his chair, immediately stand up after the fall and continue working. The Arbitrator noted that the Petitioner misjudged the location of the chair and that’s what caused him to fall, not any defect with the chair or the surrounding area. Since the risk of him missing his chair was not related to his work and was just as likely to happen outside of work, the Arbitrator found it was a neutral risk. No evidence was presented to show he was quantitatively or qualitatively exposed to this risk greater than the general public. The Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s denial of benefits.

    Jackson v. Loretto Hospital, 27 ILWCLB 146 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner worked as a medical records technician for a hospital. When entering work one day, she stumbled on steps walking upstairs in the hospital. The Arbitrator denied

    benefits noting there was no defect in the staircase, and she did not have to perform any special task that necessitated her need to carry anything or hurry while taking the stairs. The Arbitrator explained that stairs are a neutral risk and a fall is not compensable if the Petitioner does not face a risk of injury to a greater degree than that faced by the general public. The Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.

    Course of Employment:

    Newson v. Chicago Lighthouse for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired, 27 ILWCLB 147 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner is a customer service representative for the Respondent, who is located in the basement of a college student union. The student union is open to all students and occupies multiple businesses, but the Respondent was the only employer in the basement. In order to get to work, the Petitioner has to enter the student union, walk down a hall, and either take the elevator or stairs down to the basement. The Petitioner was walking to work one day and slipped and fell on a wet floor in the common area of the student union, injuring her ankle. The Arbitrator awarded benefits.

    The Commission reversed, finding that the Petitioner did not prove the injury occurred in the course of employment. The Commission found that because the Petitioner was not instructed on which route to take to work and the union had many entrances all open to the general public, the Petitioner was not exposed to a greater risk. They specifically found that the requirement of walking through the lobby two times per day in order to travel to and from work did not establish increased risk.

    Pickett v. Chester Mental Health Center, 27 ILWCLB 148 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner is an activity therapist at a mental health center, who provided leisure activities for patients. He often provided music for the patients during gym sessions. One day while on break, the Petitioner went to his car to get a CD he had forgotten and intended to use during that day’s gym session. While walking to his car, he slipped and fell on ice in the parking lot, injuring his knee. The Petitioner was assigned to park in a specific area of the parking lot which only employees could use. The public and visitors had to park in a separate parking lot.

    The Arbitrator awarded benefits finding that the Petitioner’s actions were within the scope of his employment since he was performing a duty he was hired to perform. The Arbitrator also found that the accident arose out of the Petitioner’s employment because he slipped on ice in a parking lot controlled by the Respondent. The Commission affirmed.

    Walker Brothers Inc. v. (Ramsey), IWCC, 27 ILWCLB 155 (Ill. App. Ct., 1st 2019).

    The Petitioner was a cook with the Respondent. On the day of his accident he was parked in a neighboring parking lot of another business waiting for a co-worker to arrive and open the restaurant. When the co-worker arrived, the Petitioner rushed to follow him and slipped

    and fell in the neighboring business’s parking lot. The Respondent had a longstanding agreement with the neighboring business that 13 of the Respondent’s employees could park in its lot from January through October. These parking spaces were open to the public and there was no sign indicating that they were reserved for the Respondent’s employees.

    The Commission found that the Petitioner’s injury arose out of and in the course and scope of his employment and awarded benefits. The Circuit Court affirmed the Commission’s decision. The Illinois Appellate Court reversed as a matter of law. They found that the Respondent did not own, control, or contribute toward maintenance of the neighboring lot. There was no evidence to support the Petitioner’s claim he was required to park there. Rather, they found that the evidence suggested most employees did not park there because it required them to cross the street. Based on this, the Appellate Court found the neighboring lot was not provided by the Respondent and the Petitioner’s injuries did not arise out of and in the course and scope of his employment.

    Wylie v. Illinois State of / Dept. of Juvenile Justice, 27 ILWCLB 156 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner was a juvenile justice specialist at a youth correction center. In this position she supervised, interacted, and participated with the youths. She would take the kids on field trips, including day trip to a swimming pool. While at the pool on day, she dove in and injured her shoulder. The Respondent’s written rules did not prohibit swimming.

    The Arbitrator denied benefits finding that the Petitioner failed to prove she sustained an injury arising out of and in the course of her employment. The Commission reversed. They found she was a traveling employee because she was required to take the youths to the pool that day. Because the Petitioner was required to interact with the students, and that is what she was doing while swimming with them at the pool, they found her injury also arose out of her employment. Further, they found it was reasonable and foreseeable that she would swim that day and there were no rules preventing her from swimming.

    Ciaccio v. Riverside Medical Center, 27 ILWCLB 157 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner was a trauma registrar and emergency preparedness specialist at a medical center. She also served as a chairperson on the Respondent’s “Partners in Care Committee” where she oversaw committee fundraisers. The Petitioner oversaw a “treadmill-a-thon” where employees exercised on treadmills or bikes for 24 hours in an effort to fundraise. During this event, the Petitioner tripped and fell over a barrier and fractured her wrist. The Petitioner testified she was encouraged to serve on this committee by her employer and was paid normal wages during the fundraiser which took place during normal office hours.

    The Arbitrator denied benefits based on Section 11 of the Act. Upon review, the Commission affirmed the denial of benefits, but rejected the Arbitrator’s application of Section 11. The Commission found that while exercising could be a recreational activity under Section 11, the exercise at this fundraiser was done to raise money and not for play and was therefore not a recreational activity under Section 11. The Commission found that the Petitioner failed to

    prove she was required as part of her job to participate in this fundraiser and it was a voluntary act that did not arise out of and in the course of her employment.

    Accidental Injury:

    Aden v. Tyson Foods Inc., 27 ILWCLB 149 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner had finished his shift and was waiting in his car outside the Respondent’s premises for his co-workers so he could drive him home. The Petitioner exited his car briefly and while doing so, was attacked and stabbed by a co-worker. The Petitioner had not spoken to the assailant that day but did have a prior work dispute with him years earlier. The Petitioner had previously reported the assailant for failing to assist him with work. The assailant had made multiple threats to the Petitioner after reporting him.

    The Arbitrator found a compensable accident and awarded benefits. The Commission affirmed based on the facts that the Petitioner was not the aggressor and the evidence proving the attack was work-related and not personal. The Commission found this risk was peculiar to the Petitioner’s employment and not one shared by the general public.

    Breitbarth v. Pepsi, 27 ILWCLB 150 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019).

    The Petitioner is a truck hiker / case picker who puts cases of beverages on pallets and uses a forklift to take those pallets to a staging area. In this position, he stands on his feet between 2-12 hours per day, working 50-70 hours per week. The Petitioner was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis and tarsal tunnel syndrome in his feet.

    The Arbitrator denied benefits indicating that the Petitioner failed to prove a compensable condition. He based his denial on the fact there was no medical evidence supporting causation and the initial medical histories did not indicate a work injury. He also relied on the Respondent’s expert who opined that plantar fasciitis is degenerative and can only be caused by cumulative trauma with high impact activities, which the Petitioner did not do at work. The Commission affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s opinion.

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  • 09/30/2019 12:04 PM | Judy Pfeiffer (Administrator)

    Status of Employment:  

    Oleksy v. WK Heating Inc., 27 ILWCLB 122 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2018). 

    Petitioner sustained injuries while working for respondent, who installed and maintained heating and cooling systems. Respondent paid petitioner with checks made out to the business owned by petitioner.  Petitioner received a Form 1099 with no taxes or Social Security deducted from his pay.  Respondent instructed petitioner to take out workers’ compensation insurance through his own corporation and there was no written contract between petitioner and defendant.  Respondent claimed he paid petitioner per unit installed, while petitioner claimed he received payment on an hourly basis.  Respondent provided blueprints, but respondent did not dictate or control the way petitioner installed the furnaces.  Petitioner used job materials provided by respondent. Petitioner did not receive paid time off, vacation, or health insurance from respondent. The Arbitrator found that the claimant failed to prove an employer/employee relationship with the respondent.   

    Petitioner appealed to the Commission and the majority affirmed and adopted the Arbitrator’s decision.  Commissioner Tyrrell dissented, finding that respondent paid petitioner an hourly wage, he did not have experience in the HVAC business, and defendant exercised control over the petitioner’s work. Further, Commissioner Tyrrell found respondent’s testimony “patently absurd” that he had no employees, only independent contractors.  

    Arising Out of Employment: 

    Stadelbacher v. Choate Mental Health,27 ILWCLB 123 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2018). 

    Petitioner worked as a public service administrator and training director at respondent’s mental health facility.  At the end of her workday, she left the employee lounge through an exit-only door with the most direct path to the parking lot. She climbed several steps to a concrete slab, and then walked onto a grassy area where she stepped into a hole and injured her left knee. Another exit existed from the employee lounge directly to the staff parking area, but it required a longer walk due to a retaining wall.  The arbitrator found that petitioner’s injury arose out of her employment and awarded benefits to petitioner, distinguishing the facts from the Illinois Appellate Court’s decision in Dodson v. Industrial Commission.  The arbitrator noted there clearly was a defective area with a deep hole that caused petitioner’s knee injury, while no such defect existed in Dodson.  Furthermore, the exit petitioner used was marked with an exit sign in the employee lounge, which indicated it was a designated exit.  This exit also seemed to be the general path all employees took who left by that door.   

    Respondent appealed and the majority of the Commission affirmed and adopted the opinion of the arbitrator.  Commissioner Coppoletti dissented, finding that petitioner’s accident did not arise out of her employment.  In her dissenting opinion, Commissioner Coppoletti argued that petitioner utilized an unsafe path for her own convenience even though respondent provided a safe route. 

    Tindall v. Illinois, State of/Menard Correctional Center, 27 ILWCLB 124 (Ill. W.C. Comm. 2019). 

    Petitioner, a correctional supply supervisor at the prison, sustained injuries to his right shoulder and hand when he fell forward while traversing stairs.  After he arrived for his shift, he walked up a flight of stairs on the outside of a door already open.  Petitioner then turned around to walk down a flight of stairs that led to his office.  He carried a cup of soda in his right hand and keys in his left hand. While trying to locate the key to his office door, petitioner caught his toe on one of the steps and fell forward.  His testified his office door was locked for security reasons and he had a cup of soda in his hand as there was no water fountain near his office.  The arbitrator awarded benefits to petitioner, finding he was exposed to an employment risk to which the general public is not exposed, even though a fall while traversing stairs is usually a neutral risk.  Although there was no testimony about whether the general public used the stairs, the arbitrator inferred that the stairs were not open to the general public since the stairs were in a prison.  Further, he did not have a water fountain near his office, so it was necessary for him to have a cup of soda in his hand.  His accident arose out of his employment.  

    Respondent appealed to the Commission.  The Commission majority affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator. Commissioner Simpson dissented, stating there was no evidence the stairs were defective or dangerous and petitioner did not have to use the stairs excessively in the course of his employment.  As a result, Commission Simpson found the risk of falling unrelated to petitioner’s employment.  

    Read the full report.

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