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Kertis v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 18, 2013

LAVERNE KERTIS, Appellant,
v.
THE ILLINOIS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION et al. (Washington Mutual, Inc., n/k/a/ Chase Bank and Specialty Risk Services, Appellee)

Rehearing denied July 19, 2013

Held[*]

A trial court’s judgment confirming the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s denial of claimant’s application for benefits based on its finding that the injuries he suffered when he stepped in a pothole in a municipal parking lot and fell did not arise out of his employment was reversed, since the Commission erred by failing to consider that claimant was a traveling employee, he was the manager of two branches of a bank and had to travel between the two branches regularly, he had to park in the nearby municipal lot, and he was injured while engaging in reasonable conduct that “might normally be anticipated or foreseen” by his employer, especially when the bank did not present any evidence rebutting claimant’s testimony.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Kane County, No. 11-MR-32; the Hon. Review Thomas E. Mueller, Judge, presiding.

Paul W. Grauer, of Paul W. Grauer & Associates, of Schaumburg, for appellant.

Dennis J. Noble, Michael E. Mahay, and Lisa K. Barbieri, all of Noble & Associates, of Naperville, for appellee.

Panel Justices Hoffman, Hudson, Harris, and Stewart concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HOLDRIDGE PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 The claimant, Laverne Kertis, filed an application for adjustment of claim under the Workers' Compensation Act (the Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 2008)), seeking benefits for back injuries which he allegedly sustained while working for the respondent, Washington Mutual, Inc., n/k/a Chase Bank and Specialty Risk Services (employer). After conducting a hearing, an arbitrator found that the claimant had failed to prove that he sustained an accidental injury arising out of his employment and denied benefits.

¶ 2 The claimant appealed the arbitrator's decision to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (the Commission), which affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision. Commissioner Mason dissented.

¶ 3 The claimant sought judicial review of the Commission's decision in the circuit court of Kane County, which confirmed the Commission's decision. This appeal followed.

¶ 4 FACTS

¶ 5 The following factual summary is taken from the claimant's testimony at the arbitration hearing, which was unrebutted.[1] The claimant worked as a branch manager for two branches of the employer's bank. One of the branch offices that the claimant managed was located in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, and the other was in St. Charles, Illinois. In the performance of his job duties, the claimant regularly traveled between these two branch offices. The claimant would go from one branch to the other to attend loan closings and to perform other employment-related tasks. His travel schedule varied according to the employer's needs. Sometimes the claimant would start his workday at the Hoffman Estates branch and drive to the St. Charles branch later in the day. Other times he would start in St. Charles and then travel to Hoffman Estates. Sometimes the claimant would travel back and forth between the two branch offices several times per day. When asked whether there were days when he would not have to travel between the two offices, the claimant responded, "Rare. If any."

ΒΆ 6 The employer did not provide parking for its employees or customers at the St. Charles branch office. The employees working at that office had to park either on the street or in a nearby municipal parking lot. When the claimant traveled to the St. Charles office, he "pretty much always" parked in a particular municipal parking lot that was located across the street and approximately one block away from that office. Although there were other parking lots owned and operated by the city of St. Charles, the ...


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