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Suter v. The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District

November 14, 2013

MARY SUTER, Appellant,

Held [*]

The appellate court reversed the trial court’s confirmation of the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s decision finding that claimant failed to prove that the injuries suffered when she fell on the ice in the parking lot near the building where she worked arose out of and in the course of her employment, since the evidence showing that claimant worked for the State of Illinois through a temporary employment agency, worked in a building the State leased with a provision requiring the landlord to provide 410 parking spaces for state employees, and fell after parking her car in a space assigned to her in one of the lots by an agent of the landlord based on her status as a state employee established that she was injured “in the course” of her employment, and based on the undisputed facts, her injuries “arose out of” a risk associated with her employment.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, No. 12-MR-592; the Hon. John Schmidt, Judge, presiding.

Andrew Ricci (argued), of John V. Boshardy & Associates, P.C., of Springfield, for appellant.

Matthew A. Brewer (argued), of Knell & Kelly, L.L.C., of Peoria, for appellee.

JUSTICE STEWART delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge and Justices Hoffman, Hudson, and Harris concurred in the judgment and opinion.



¶ 1 The claimant, Mary Suter, slipped and fell on ice on a parking lot as she exited her vehicle to go to work and sustained injuries to her left upper extremity. She filed a claim under the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 to 30 (West 2010)). The Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) found that she failed to prove that her accident arose out of and in the course of her employment. The circuit court confirmed the Commission's decision, and the claimant appeals the circuit court's judgment. We reverse and remand for further proceedings on the claimant's claim.


¶ 3 Manpower is a temporary employment agency, and the claimant was employed by Manpower as a temporary worker. Manpower loaned the claimant to work at the Illinois Department of Insurance as a temporary employee. During the time she was employed by Manpower, the claimant worked exclusively for the Department of Insurance at a building called the Bicentennial Building, which is located on Washington Street in Springfield, Illinois. The State of Illinois leased the building for offices for several state agencies, including the Department of Insurance. The lease required the landlord to provide parking spaces for 410 vehicles for State of Illinois employees. In addition, the lease required the landlord to provide services such as snow and ice removal from the sidewalks and parking areas.

¶ 4 Manpower did not provide the claimant with any instructions concerning parking. When the claimant started working at the Department of Insurance, she initially parked on the street. On her first day at work, she asked one of her supervisors, Tommy Collier, about available parking. Collier told her that he did not know anything about the parking. During cross-examination, the claimant testified that she was told that she was on her own as far as parking was concerned. Collier, however, also told the claimant to speak with the building manager, Douglas Sim, and he would tell her if there was a space available. Sim was not an employee of the State of Illinois but worked for a managing agent that, in turn, worked for a limited partnership that owned the building.

¶ 5 At the arbitration hearing, Collier testified that "when a temporary person comes in and asks for parking I tell them to see the building manager or they can find their own parking and pay the parking." He did not know how regular, full-time state employees were assigned their parking spaces or where they parked. Collier testified that when he first started working for the Department of Insurance, he did not immediately have a parking space, but one was later assigned to him. He did not remember who assigned him the parking space.

¶ 6 Sim testified that he had managed the building for 10 years. According to Sim, the landlord made 10 parking lots available for state employee parking, and there were approximately 723 parking spots on the lots. The parking spaces were assigned to state employees on a first-come, first-served basis.

¶ 7 Sim assigned the claimant a specific parking space within one of the lots available for state employee parking. At that time, the claimant had been working for the Department of Insurance for about one week. The parking lot was not available to the general public. Sim testified that he assigned parking spaces to Manpower employees because he knew that they did not make a lot of money. He testified that he did this on his own and that no one from the State of Illinois told him to do so. The spots he assigned to Manpower workers were not available to the general public.

ΒΆ 8 The accident at issue occurred on February 8, 2010. The claimant had arrived for work and parked her vehicle in her assigned parking space. She retrieved her backpack, which contained snacks, and coffee and was closing her car door when she slipped on ice and struck the ...

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