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Reichling v. Touchette Regional Hospital, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

July 16, 2015

SHELLEY REICHLING, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
TOUCHETTE REGIONAL HOSPITAL, INC., Defendant-Appellee

Page 321

Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 12-L-588. Honorable Vincent J. Lopinot, Judge, presiding.

Roy C. Dripps and Michael T. Blotevogel, both of Armbruster, Dripps, Winterscheidt & Blotevogel, LLC, of Alton, for appellant.

Charles J. Swartwout and David B. Schneidewind, both of Boyle Brasher, LLC, of Belleville, for appellee.

Cates, Presiding Justice and Welch, Justice concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

Page 322

STEWART, JUSTICE.

[¶1] The plaintiff, Shelley Reichling, appeals the circuit court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Touchette Regional Hospital, Inc. (Touchette), on the basis that her premises liability action was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/5(a) (West 2008)) because she was Touchette's borrowed employee at the time of her injury. On appeal, the plaintiff argues that the circuit court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Touchette because there was a genuine issue of material fact as to whether she was Touchette's borrowed employee. Finding no such issue of material fact, we affirm.

[¶2] BACKGROUND

[¶3] On February 9, 2011, the plaintiff filed an application for adjustment of claim pursuant to the Act (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 2008)) for injuries she sustained on December 26, 2010, when she slipped and fell while working at Touchette as a registered nurse through ReadyLink Healthcare (ReadyLink), a temporary healthcare staffing agency. ReadyLink settled the workers' compensation claim on August 19, 2011, for $50,125.18. Touchette was not a party to that claim.

[¶4] On October 30, 2012, the plaintiff filed this premises liability action against Touchette based on the same injury at issue in her workers' compensation claim, alleging that she was injured on December 26, 2010, when she slipped on a wet floor in Touchette's emergency department and fell, fracturing her knee. She alleged that Touchette was negligent in that it failed to provide adequate warnings and failed to barricade or otherwise segregate the area of the floor that had been mopped.

[¶5] On April 30, 2014, Touchette filed a motion for summary judgment pursuant to section 2-1005 of the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1005 (West 2008)) and memorandum in support, arguing that the plaintiff's premises liability action was barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the Act (820 ILCS 305/5(a) (West 2008)) because she was Touchette's borrowed employee at the time of her injury. Touchette attached numerous documents in support of its motion, including the plaintiff's deposition transcript and answers to interrogatories and the written temporary services agreement between ReadyLink and Touchette. After additional discovery, Touchette filed a supplemental memorandum in support of its motion, attaching additional documents in support, including portions of the deposition transcripts of two of its employees. The plaintiff filed a response in opposition to Touchette's motion for summary judgment, arguing that the motion should be denied because she was not an employee of Touchette at the time of her injury. She attached numerous documents in support of her response, including the agreement between ReadyLink and Touchette, portions of her deposition transcript, portions of the deposition transcripts of several of Touchette's employees, and three documents entitled " Touchette Regional Hospital Nursing Anecdotal Note."

[¶6] The undisputed material facts can be summarized as follows. The plaintiff, a registered nurse, was employed by ReadyLink, a temporary healthcare staffing agency based in California. She never met anyone from ReadyLink in person. Her only contact with ReadyLink was by telephone. Through ReadyLink, she worked as a temporary registered nurse at Touchette and other healthcare facilities.

Page 323

[¶7] ReadyLink and Touchette had a written agreement whereby ReadyLink would provide temporary healthcare staffing services to Touchette. The agreement provides that workers placed at Touchette are ReadyLink employees and contains a restrictive covenant prohibiting Touchette from hiring the workers. Under the agreement, ReadyLink is responsible for paying the workers and for ensuring " that any and all State and Federal Income Tax, Social Security Tax, State and Federal Unemployment Tax, Disability Tax, Worker's Compensation coverage obligations and any other employment law requirements for personnel provided under this Agreement are complied with and paid as required by law." The agreement further provides that ReadyLink indemnifies and holds Touchette harmless from any such responsibility. Pursuant to the agreement, ReadyLink paid the plaintiff and provided her malpractice, general liability, and workers' compensation insurance.

[¶8] The agreement provides that Touchette is responsible for scheduling, supervising, and evaluating the workers. Under the agreement, Touchette is responsible for determining the proper patient treatment. The agreement further provides that Touchette has the right to immediately terminate the services of any ReadyLink worker, if, in its sole discretion, the worker is found to be incompetent or negligent, to have engaged in misconduct, or to be unsatisfactory for any other reason.

[¶9] The plaintiff worked at Touchette through ReadyLink during 2008, 2009, and 2010. When Touchette needed a temporary registered nurse to work a shift, it called ReadyLink. ReadyLink then called the plaintiff to see if she was available. If she was available, ReadyLink notified Touchette of her availability and then called her back to confirm that she was to show up at Touchette to work that shift.

[¶10] On November 20, 2008, the plaintiff was given a document on Touchette's letterhead entitled " Memo of Understanding," along with other materials and information regarding her work at Touchette. The document states, in pertinent part, that " the ability to demonstrate skills and show proof of knowledge is necessary for competency of new and annual training of employees, agencies, contracted [ sic], volunteers, and students in the hospital." The document further states that Touchette's education department was providing her information necessary to assist in her safety while in her " tour of duty " (emphasis in original) in its facility. The document notes that other materials provided to her include information about Touchette's mission/vision, security, ergonomics, customer service, life safety, emergency codes, hand hygiene, incident reporting, workplace harassment, electrical safety, fire safety, compliance, and " HIPPA." She signed the document, indicating that her employer was ReadyLink but acknowledging that Touchette's unit manager, education department, or house supervisor on duty would be her resource person for any questions she may have about safety information and hazard facts. She also acknowledged that she had received an orientation/clinical information packet/card on the above-listed topics and that the material was her responsibility while on duty.

[¶11] On May 17, 2009, the plaintiff was given Touchette's job description for a registered nurse, which was on Touchette's letterhead. The job description, which the plaintiff signed, included a summary of the job, the essential functions and duties of the job, the qualifications for the job, the preferred skills and abilities for the job, the physical demands of the job, and the duties and responsibilities of the job.

Page 324

Above the plaintiff's signature was the following ...


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