Suter v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission 
By: Katie S. Lonze - Associate - Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie & Lowry

 

The claimant slipped and fell on ice as she exited her car in a parking lot of the Bicentennial building in Springfield. 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. The State of Illinois leased the building. The lease required that the landlord provide parking spaces for 410 vehicles for State of Illinois employees. On her first day of work, the claimant inquired about parking. The claimant’s supervisor at the Department of Insurance told her to speak with the building manager who worked for the managing agent of the building owner. The building manager assigned the claimant a parking space in one of the ten lots available for state employees. These lots were not available for use by the general public. The building manager was not told by anyone at the State of Illinois to provide parking spaces for temporary employees within the designated lots, but often did because he knew the workers from Manpower did not make a lot of money.

In her application for adjustment of claim, the claimant named Manpower as a loaning employer and the State of Illinois as a borrowing employer. The arbitrator denied benefits finding that the building manager was not an agent or employee of the Manpower or the State of Illinois and his voluntary act of kindness in providing the claimant with a parking space was not attributable to either employer. The Commission affirmed and adopted the arbitrator’s decision. The circuit court confirmed the Commission’s decision and also dismissed the State of Illinois as a respondent on jurisdictional grounds. The Appellate Court reversed finding that as a matter of law the claimant was entitled to benefits.

The Appellate Court determined that the lease between the State and the building required designated parking spaces specifically for State employees, and the claimant was an employee of the State as she was a loaned employee from Manpower. The court found it significant that the claimant’s supervisor customarily directed her and other state employees to the building manager for the purpose of parking lot assignment. The Appellate Court concluded that under these uncontroverted facts the claimant was authorized by her employer to park on a nonpublic parking lot that was made available to employees for parking by the employer through a lease agreement with the landlord. The claimant’s use of the nonpublic parking lot was a customary and permitted activity of state employees at the Department of Insurance facility. Because the State of Illinois did not pay benefits, Manpower was liable for benefits pursuant to section 1(a)(4) of the Act addressing the liabilities of loaning and borrowing employers.

 

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