Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Workers' Compensation Commission Division
from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 15-L-50266
Honorable Robert Lopez Cepero, Judge, presiding.
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, Jonathan Jordan, a middle school science
teacher, filed an application for adjustment of claim under
the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1
et seq. (West 2010)), against the employer, Calumet
School District #132, seeking compensation for an accidental
injury he sustained on March 23, 2011, while participating in
a student/teacher basketball game in the employer's
gymnasium after school. After an arbitration hearing, the
arbitrator awarded the claimant benefits under the Act,
finding that he was not engaged in a "voluntary
recreational program" under section 11 of the Act (820
ILCS 305/11 (West 2010)) at the time of his injury and that
his injury arose out of and in the course of his employment.
The employer sought review of the arbitrator's decision
before the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission
(Commission), which affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's
decision. The employer filed a timely petition for judicial
review in the circuit court of Cook County, which reversed
the Commission's decision, finding that the claimant was
participating in a "voluntary recreational program"
under section 11 of the Act at the time of his injury and
that his injury, therefore, did not arise out of and in the
course of his employment. The claimant filed a timely appeal.
For the reasons that follow, we reverse the judgment of the
circuit court and reinstate the Commission's decision.
3 On April 12, 2011, the claimant filed an application for
adjustment of claim under the Act against the employer,
seeking compensation for an accidental injury he sustained on
March 23, 2011. The following facts are taken from the
evidence presented at the arbitration hearing, which was held
on August 8 and September 17, 2013.
4 At the time of his injury, the claimant was a science
teacher for the employer at Calumet Middle School (school).
He had a contract to teach for the 2010 to 2011 school year,
with a starting date of August 23, 2010, and a salary of $37,
554 per year. The employer offered a wage statement, which
showed that the claimant received bi-weekly gross payments of
$1, 444.38, netting $1, 075.56.
5 The claimant was also an instructor at Triton College at
the time of his injury. He earned $4, 007 for the fall
semester at Triton College, which the employer stipulated was
to be included in calculating his average weekly wage.
6 The claimant testified that all teachers were expected to
attend and participate in afterschool activities involving
student participation, such as open houses, parent/teacher
conferences, dances, and performances, without additional
compensation. He stated that he considered attendance at, and
participation in, such activities to be a part of his job.
7 The claimant testified that he became aware of the
afterschool basketball program at the school a couple of
weeks before he was injured. He stated that the school
principal, Corey Levy, and another colleague told him that
the afterschool basketball program was designed to reward
students who were performing well in school and staying out
of trouble. He testified that the students were allowed to
play basketball with some teachers, which they enjoyed. He
stated that he liked the idea of building rapport with the
students and rewarding the students for doing the right
thing, but he was leery of playing basketball because of the
risk of being injured. He testified that he was not a
basketball player. He did not play basketball in high school
or college, and he had not participated in the afterschool
basketball program before the date of his injury.
8 The claimant testified that Levy had first asked him to
participate in the afterschool basketball program a couple of
weeks before his injury. He stated that he had hemmed, hawed,
and stalled and that he had not played that week. He
testified that Levy had asked him to participate in the game
the following week and that he had said, "maybe another
time." He stated that he was hoping that Levy would stop
asking him to participate. He explained that he wanted to
attend the games but that he did not want to play. He
testified that on the day before he was injured Levy had
asked him for the third time to participate in a basketball
game the next day, and he agreed to play.
9 The claimant testified that, at the time of these
conversations with Levy, he had not yet received a contract
to teach for the next school year; nor had he received his
performance review, which he expected to receive by the end
of March. He stated that he was concerned that, if he refused
to participate, he would get on Levy's "bad side,
" that he would not be viewed as a team player, that it
would negatively affect his performance review, or that his
contract would not be renewed. He testified that, although he
was not ordered to participate in the basketball game, he
felt pressured the third time Levy cornered him. He stated
that he felt strongly that if he refused to participate it
would impact his ability to get a good review and to obtain a
contract for the next school year.
10 On March 23, 2011, the claimant played in the
student/teacher basketball game, which was held immediately
after school in the gymnasium. He testified that there were
five students playing against five teachers, including Levy.
11 The claimant testified that, during the game, the teachers
who were present were responsible for overseeing the welfare
of the students. He stated that students were not required to
have parents or guardians present; nor did the school hire
any outside personnel to supervise the students. He testified
that, if an incident or emergency occurred during the game,
it was the teachers' responsibility to take appropriate
action in accordance with their duties as staff members. He
stated that he believed the game was a school-sanctioned
event and that his responsibilities as a teacher at the
school did not end just because the bell had rung and he was
on the basketball court with the students.
12 The claimant testified that, as he was going up for a jump
shot during the game, a student ran through his legs,
spinning him in the air and causing him to fall to the ground
onto his left arm. He was taken to the emergency room at
MetroSouth Medical Center. X-rays showed a left forearm
fracture of the proximal shaft. He was given pain medication,
taken off work, and instructed to follow up with an
13 The following day, the claimant saw Dr. Samuel Park, an
orthopedic surgeon. Dr. Park diagnosed a displaced left
radial shaft fracture and performed an open reduction and
internal fixation of the left ...