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Patton v. Industrial Com.

OPINION FILED JULY 23, 1986.

WAYNE E. PATTON, APPELLEE,

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (COMPLETE AUTO TRANSIT, INC., APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. Jan Fiss, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE WEBBER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied October 8, 1986.

Respondent, Complete Auto Transit, Inc., appeals from an order of the circuit court which reversed the Industrial Commission's finding that the Commission lacked jurisdiction over petitioner Wayne E. Patton's application for adjustment of claim, because Patton failed to demonstrate he was a person whose employment is "principally localized" within the State of Illinois.

Petitioner, a truck driver, was hired by respondent on January 6, 1977, in St. Louis, Missouri, at respondent's main terminal. Petitioner's occupation requires that he deliver automobiles to various dealers in a number of States. Respondent is a Michigan corporation with two terminals. The principal facility is located in St. Louis with a second terminal in East St. Louis, Illinois.

Petitioner, an Illinois resident, worked solely out of the St. Louis, Missouri, terminal. On July 23, 1979, petitioner injured his hand while off-loading vehicles in Evansville, Indiana. Petitioner telephoned his dispatcher in St. Louis who directed him to return there, if possible. Petitioner was able to drive to Nashville, Illinois, his home, and there, at a doctor's direction, had his hand X-rayed. The next morning he returned the trailer to the St. Louis terminal and was examined by medical personnel of the respondent.

Although petitioner's family doctor diagnosed a fracture of the hand, X rays taken at the direction of respondent's doctors failed to substantiate the existence of the fracture. Thereafter, petitioner secured his own physicians who rendered professional services to him for his injury over the next two years.

The parties entered a stipulation that from the date of hire through the date of injury, petitioner had driven in various States in the following amounts:

STATE MILES PERCENT Illinois 30,326 48.7 Tennessee 11,770 18.9 Kentucky 11,157 17.9 Georgia 4,675 7.5 Indiana 2,581 4.1 Missouri 952 1.5 Alabama 308 .5 Mississippi 292 .5 Louisiana 88 .1 Arkansas 73 .1 Kansas 3

The parties also stipulated that both Missouri and Indiana would have jurisdiction under their respective workers' compensation statutes for the injury which occurred.

Petitioner filed an application for adjustment of claim with the Industrial Commission. The arbitrator awarded 91 2/7 weeks temporary total disability payments. An additional award of 15% permanent partial disability was made for loss of the use of petitioner's right hand for the period of 28 1/2 weeks.

On appeal to the Commission, the decision of the arbitrator was reversed. The Commission determined that petitioner had failed to show that his employment was sufficiently associated with Illinois to be considered as "principally localized" in Illinois. The Commission dismissed the application for lack of jurisdiction. On certiorari, the circuit court reversed the Commission and reinstated the award of the arbitrator. The court found that since petitioner spent 48.7% of his employment time in this State, which the court considered to be "an extremely substantial amount" of time in comparison to petitioner's contact with other States, petitioner's employment was "localized in the State of Illinois." As additional support for its finding, the trial court considered the fact that petitioner and his family resided in Illinois and that the "effects" of the industrial accident took place in the State of Illinois. The Commission's finding that it lacked jurisdiction was overturned as against the manifest weight of the evidence. This appeal ensued.

At issue is an interpretation of section 1(b)(2) of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 48, par. 138.1(b)(2)). Section 1(b)(2) was one of a series of amendments to the Act contained in Public Act 79-79, which became effective on July 1, 1975. The statute provides:

"The term `employee' as used in this Act means: Every person in the service of another under any contract of hire, express or implied, oral or written, including persons whose employment is outside of the State of Illinois where the contract of hire is made within the State of Illinois, persons whose employment results in fatal or non-fatal injuries within the State of Illinois where the contract of hire is made outside of the State of Illinois, and persons whose employment is principally localized within the State of Illinois, regardless of the place of the accident or the place where the contract of hire was made, * * *."

It is conceded that the injury occurred and the contract for hire was entered outside of the State of Illinois. Therefore, we are limited to determining whether petitioner's employment was "principally localized" within the State of Illinois. The term is not defined in the Illinois Act. No cases have been called to our attention and research has not ...


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