I&F Attorney Michael Bantz obtained a successful result in recent litigation, where the Petitioner’s fall was found not to arise out of her employment.
The Petitioner testified at trial that she had fallen on the stairs that led into the correctional facility where she worked. She further testified that she had been carrying bags in her hands but was not wearing a backpack. She stated that she was reaching for the door at the top of the stairs but fell backwards. The Petitioner also stated that she was wearing normal oxford laced shoes.
The Petitioner’s supervisor also testified, contradicting the Petitioner’s testimony on the issue of whether she was wearing a backpack and as to the condition of her shoes. The Petitioner’s supervisor asserted that the petitioner was wearing a backpack that was possibly pulling the Petitioner backwards. Her supervisor believed that the bags contained personal materials rather than anything required by her job as a correctional officer. The Petitioner’s supervisor also testified that the Petitioner was wearing slip-on shoes without laces, and which were damaged to the point that the soles were coming off and “literally flapping.” Testimony from the supervisor also established that the only times that the Petitioner would go up or down stairs was twice per shift, while entering and exiting the building.
In his Decision, the Arbitrator found that, regardless of the conflicting information on these facts, the Petitioner’s fall did not arise out of her employment. The Arbitrator ruled that she was not exposed to any risk greater than that of the general public. There were no defects on the stairs and the Petitioner “simply fell,” even by her own testimony. The Arbitrator also noted that her work duties primarily kept her on one floor, and that there were elevators available to travel to other parts of the building.
The Petitioner is seeking a Review of the Arbitration Decision before the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission.
This case highlights the importance of bringing both factual and legal arguments to the table in defense of a claim. The testimony of the Petitioner’s supervisor helped to provide one aspect of the defense, but the Decision ultimately came down in favor of the Respondent due to legal analysis regarding what constitutes an accident that “arises out of employment.”
Congratulations to Michael Bantz for the excellent result. Michael works out of the Champaign offices of the firm.