APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIFTH DISTRICT
503 N.E.2d 1186, 151 Ill. App. 3d 1069, 105 Ill. Dec. 180 1987.IL.111
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Madison County; the Hon. Nicholas G. Byron, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE WOODWARD delivered the opinion of the court. BARRY, P.J., and McCULLOUGH and KASSERMAN, JJ., concur. JUSTICE McNAMARA, Dissenting.
DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE WOODWARD
Respondent (employer), Law Offices of William W. Schooley, appeals from a judgment of the trial court setting aside the Industrial Commission's denial of benefits to the claimant, John Schooley (hereinafter John). The employer contends on appeal that John's injury did not arise out of and in the course of his employment within the meaning of section 11 of the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.11).
John had worked for about seven years as a law clerk for his father's law firm. Generally, his duties included investigation, research, and providing transportation for the firm's clients. John alleged that part of his duties involved managing a softball team sponsored by the law firm and a local tavern. Everett Kelly, the firm's investigator, owned the tavern that co-sponsored the team. John had previously played with the same team when it was under a different sponsorship.
John's employer, the law firm, provided the softball team with uniforms that read "Eddie's Lounge" on the back and "Et Al" on the front of the shirt. John testified that "Et Al" was associated with the law firm by the team members and community. Kelly and the law firm split the cost of the team's equipment, uniforms, and league and tournament fees.
During office hours, John was authorized to use the firm's copying machine and telephones for softball matters. John's telephone number supplied on the team roster was the office number. Two to three days each week John would leave work early to practice with the team. The time he spent with the team was not deducted from his paycheck.
John was directed to bring the team to Eddie's Lounge after their games. William Schooley, John's father, would attend the games occasionally and join the team at the tavern where he bought them pitchers of beer; he testified that his sponsorship of the team enhanced his law practice. He derived business from members of the team and patrons of the tavern due to his relationship with the team. He procured two personal injury cases and numerous wills and traffic offenses.
On August 3, 1981, during the first season under the law firm's sponsorship, John injured his back while playing softball during a regularly scheduled game. Thereafter, John filed an application for workers' compensation benefits. After a hearing, an arbitrator awarded John temporary total benefits for a period of 18 3/7 weeks, 35% loss of the use of the right leg, and $7,973 for necessary medical expenses. On review, the Industrial Commission set aside the arbitrator's decision finding that the softball team was a voluntary recreational program and that John was not ordered to play softball. The trial court reinstated the arbitrator's award, holding that John's injury arose out of and in the course of his employment.
The employer's sole contention is that the decision of the Industrial Commission should have been upheld as it was not contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence. An Industrial Commission's decision will not be disturbed unless it is against the manifest weight of the evidence. (Certi-Serve, Inc. v. Industrial Com. (1984), 101 Ill. 2d 236, 244.) Given the circumstances of this case, the trial court properly reversed the Industrial Commission's decision denying compensation.
The trial court held that the Industrial Commission's finding that John's participation in the softball league was voluntary rather than part of John's employment duties was not supported by the evidence. The relevant section of the Workers' Compensation Act provides:
"Accidental injuries incurred while participating in voluntary recreational programs including but not limited to athletic events, parties and picnics do not arise out of and in the course of the employment even though the employer pays some or all the cost thereof. This exclusion shall not apply in the event that the injured employee was ordered or ...