Illinois Appellate Court Bars Temporary Employees from Seeking Civil Damages from Employer Based on Borrowed Employee Doctrine

In a recent opinion issued by the First Division of the Illinois Appellate Court, the plaintiffs were employees of a temporary employment agency. In April 2010, they were sent to work at a retail store. While working at the retail store, a store supervisor was operating a vehicle in which the plaintiffs were riding when the vehicle was involved in a collision. The plaintiffs applied for workers’ compensation benefits with their temporary employment agency employer, which the insurance carrier paid without contest. They also filed a civil lawsuit against the retail store and the supervisor.

In response to the civil complaint, the store and the supervisor filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting that the plaintiffs’ exclusive remedy for damages was workers’ compensation benefits and that the plaintiffs were the retail store’s borrowed employees at the time the collision occurred. The plaintiffs appealed.

The appellate court first addressed the defendants’ claim that the plaintiffs were estopped from seeking civil damages from the retail store. One of the defendants’ primary arguments in support of this contention was that the accident occurred during the course and scope of employment. The plaintiffs disputed this, stating that the time spent in the vehicle was travel time to another location and was therefore not during the course and scope of employment. According to the appellate court, however, since the plaintiffs sought and received workers’ compensation damages for the accident, the plaintiffs could not argue that the accident did not occur during the course and scope of their employment.

The plaintiffs countered this argument by stating that while they were within their course and scope of employment with the temporary agency at the time of the collision, they were not working in the course and scope of their employment with the retail store. Relying on an Illinois Supreme Court case, the appellate court stated that when an employee who was injured by a co-employee collects workers’ compensation benefits, he or she is precluded from asserting that the accident occurred outside the course and scope of employment.

The appellate court also concluded that the plaintiffs were the retail store’s borrowed employees. According to this doctrine, a worker who is typically employed by one company can be loaned to another company or person to perform special work duties. During the loan period, the borrowed employee becomes the employee of the person to whom he or she has been loaned. Courts apply a two-part test to determine whether an employee has been borrowed:  (1) whether the special or temporary employer had the right to control and direct the employee’s work, and (2) whether any contract for hire, express or implied, existed between the regular employer and the special employer. Reviewing the record, the appellate court concluded that both of these factors were satisfied in this case and that the plaintiffs were the retail store’s borrowed employees.

Finally, the appellate court concluded that the collision happened during the course and scope of the plaintiffs’ employment. As a result of the foregoing conclusions, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendants based on estoppel.

If you have suffered an injury on the job, you may be entitled to compensation from a number of parties. At Therman Law Offices, our Illinois work injury lawyers understand the complicated laws that apply to these types of situations. We will fight aggressively for your rights and seek the full amount of compensation that you deserve. To schedule your free consultation, contact our personal injury lawyers at 312-588-1900 or contact us online to get started.

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