CASE LAW UPDATE FEBRUARY 2020

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

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I.                   ACCIDENT ARISING OUT OF AND IN THE COURSE OF EMPLOYMENT

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)


III.             CAUSAL RELATIONSHIP

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)


VI.             PERMANENCY BENEFITS

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)


VII.          MEDICAL AND REHABILITATION BENEFITS

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)


VIII.       CLAIM FILING PROCEDURES

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

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