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Enterprise Leasing Company of St. Louis v. Linda Hardin

September 8, 2011

ENTERPRISE LEASING COMPANY OF ST. LOUIS,
PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
LINDA HARDIN,
DEFENDANT-APPELLEE.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 09-LM-312 Honorable Ronald R. Eckiss, Judge, presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice Chapman

NOTICE 2011 IL App (5th) 100201

The text of this decision may be changed or corrected prior to the filing of a Petition for Rehearing or the disposition of the same.

PRESIDING JUSTICE CHAPMAN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Justices Welch and Spomer concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

¶ 1 The defendant, Linda Hardin, rented a vehicle from the plaintiff, Enterprise

Leasing Company of St. Louis, for a business trip. Two of her co-workers were passengers in the vehicle. Both passengers were injured in an accident while Hardin was driving in Kentucky. The plaintiff paid claims to the two passengers and then sought indemnification from the defendant pursuant to the rental contract. The trial court granted the defendant's motion for summary judgment, finding that (1) once the plaintiff paid the co-worker/passengers' claims, it "stepped into [their] shoes" and (2) their claims against the defendant would be barred under the Workers' Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 2006)). The plaintiff appeals that ruling, arguing that (1) its claim is not barred by the Workers' Compensation Act because it is a claim for indemnification, not subrogation, and (2) the voluntary-payment doctrine is not applicable. We affirm.

¶ 2 The defendant rented a car from the plaintiff for a business trip. She was driving in Kentucky when she collided with a median, injuring her two passengers. Both passengers were the defendant's co-workers, and all three were acting in the course of their employment when the collision occurred. The passengers, Christopher Cagle and Jeremy Hess, filed workers' compensation claims for their injuries. They also submitted personal injury claims to the plaintiff. The plaintiff paid Cagle and Hess $16,250 in settlement of those claims.

¶ 3 The plaintiff subsequently filed a complaint against the defendant seeking to recover the $16,250 it paid on her behalf. The complaint alleged that the defendant had breached the contract by driving the vehicle outside the State of Illinois and that she had driven negligently. The complaint further alleged that the plaintiff paid claims of $16,250 as a result of the defendant's negligence. Attached to the complaint was the rental contract. In relevant part, the contract provided that the defendant was to indemnify and hold harmless the plaintiff for any losses it sustained as a result of her use of the car, including claims of third parties.

¶ 4 The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that (1) the plaintiff's claimed right to payment from the defendant was derivative of Cagle and Hess's cause of action against her and (2) the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act bars claims against a co-worker for injuries sustained in the course of employment due to the negligence of the co-worker. See 820 ILCS 305/5(a) (West 2006); Ramsey v. Morrison, 175 Ill. 2d 218, 224, 676 N.E.2d 1304, 1307 (1997).

¶ 5 The plaintiff filed a response to the defendant's motion. In the response, the plaintiff alleged that the rental agreement required the defendant to indemnify it for any losses it sustained as a result of her negligence. The plaintiff further alleged that the defendant declined supplemental liability coverage, which would have paid for the claims, and that she had not submitted the claims to her own car insurance company. It also alleged that its representative did not know that the accident was work-related or that Cagle and Hess were the defendant's co-workers. The plaintiff argued that it was required to settle Cagle and Hess's claims under the mandatory insurance law (625 ILCS 5/9-101 et seq. (West 2006)) and that the Workers' Compensation Act was not relevant because there was no employment relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant or her injured co-workers.

¶ 6 The defendant filed a reply to the plaintiff's response in which she argued that

Hess and Cagle did not have common law claims against the defendant due to the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act. See 820 ILCS 305/5(a) (West 2006). As a result, she argued, the plaintiff was not obliged to pay their claims on her behalf. Thus, she argued, payment of the claims was a ...


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