Appeal from the Circuit Court of Knox County. No. 93 MR 47. Honorable Harry C. Bulkeley, Judge, Presiding.
Released for Publication April 2, 1996.
Present - Honorable John T. McCULLOUGH, Presiding Justice, Honorable Thomas R. Rakowski, Justice, Honorable Michael J. Colwell, Justice, Honorable William E. Holdridge, Justice, Honorable Philip J. Rarick, Justice. Justice Colwell delivered the opinion of the court: McCULLOUGH, P.j., and Rakowski, Holdridge, and Rarick, JJ., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colwell
The Honorable Justice COLWELL delivered the opinion of the court:
Claimant, Brenda L. Johnson, appeals from the judgment of the circuit court of Knox County which confirmed the decision of the Illinois Industrial Commission ("Commission") reversing the decision of the arbitrator awarding claimant benefits for temporary total disability and medical expenses from the respondent Wittek Companies International (Wittek). Claimant appeals contending that the decision of the Commission is contrary to existing law and the manifest weight of the evidence. We reverse and remand.
The testimony at the arbitration hearing disclosed the following evidence. Beginning in April of 1991, and at the time of her injury, claimant worked as an administrative assistant at Wittek, working directly with Vice-President Jay Hissig, and Wittek CEO, Carmen Viana. Claimant had various duties including customer relations, problem solving for customers, correspondence and attendance at various business meetings. Claimant was expected to travel as required by Wittek executives, especially Carmen Viana.
During July and August of 1991, claimant assisted Viana in planning a family vacation trip, arranging for passports, visas, flight arrangements and hotel accommodations for a vacation in Acapulco, Mexico.
There is a conflict in the evidence as to whether claimant was ordered to accompany Viana on this trip or whether she requested permission to take the trip. Claimant testified that Viana left for Mexico on July 31, 1991, and on that day in a conversation in Viana's office told claimant to pack her bag as she would be accompanying Viana and her party to Mexico. Claimant testified she told Viana that because of the heat in Mexico she did not wish to make the trip.
Carmen Viana testified that the trip was a pleasure trip for her and her family, but that she still keeps working on these kind of trips. Viana further testified that claimant asked to go on this trip.
Roxanne Ronk, a Wittek secretary, testified that she was present during the conversation on July 31, 1991, between Viana and the claimant in Viana's office. Ronk testified that she agreed to go to Mexico at the time claimant initially said no to the trip. Ronk testified that when she indicated her willingness to go on the trip claimant then said she wanted to go too. Ronk testified that Viana did not ask claimant to go at that time.
Claimant and Ronk joined Viana and her family members in Mexico after arranging to ship to Mexico certain Wittek books, records, manuals and business equipment including a computer and printer.
All expenses for Ronk and claimant were paid by Wittek. Upon arrival in Mexico the business equipment and materials were set up by Ronk and claimant. Ronk testified that some Wittek boxes were never opened, some letters were never worked on, and she never saw claimant use her memogenda in Mexico. It appears from the record that a memogenda is a device that allows a person to list and categorize assignments.
Claimant testified that on August 2, 1991, she spent the whole day on work assignments given to her by Viana. She testified that these assignments were listed in her memogenda.
Claimant testified that Ronk made arrangements for a yacht trip on August 3, 1991, so that Viana's family members could watch the cliff divers of Acapulco. Claimant testified that Viana was very insistent that claimant go on the yacht trip and that there was work leftover from the previous day. Claimant further testified that she went on the yacht from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 or 4:00 ...