Employee Who Suffered Work-Related Injuries In Florida May Bring Claims In Illinois Under The IWCA

Mahoney v. Industrial Comm’n, 2006 Ill. LEXIS 13 (2006)

 The Illinois Supreme Court held that in order to determine whether the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (“IWCC”) has jurisdiction to hear claims that arise out of accidents outside of Illinois, the sole factor is where was the contract for employment entered into.  The employee in this case was hired in Chicago, Illinois by United Airlines in 1969.  The employee worked in Illinois until 1993 when he requested and was granted a transfer to the employer’s Orlando, Florida facility.  There was no lapse of time from the employee’s last day of work at the Chicago facility and the first day of work at the Orlando facility. 

 The employee purchased a home in Florida and continues to work in that state.  Additionally, he pays Florida state income taxes and possesses a Florida drivers license.  The employee paid no taxes in Illinois and rarely returned to Illinois. The employee suffered two work-related accidents in Florida in 1999 and 2001. He received medical treatment in Florida and also received temporary total disability payments under the Florida Workers’ Compensation Act.  The Court ruled that the employee may pursue his claims in Illinois given that he was originally hired in Illinois. 

 The Illinois Supreme Court distinguished the facts in this case from the facts in  Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Industrial Comm’n, 79 Ill. 2d 425 (1980).  In Youngstown, the employee was not allowed to bring his claims in Illinois despite being originally hired in Illinois.  The employee in Youngstown was hired, laid-off, and rehired at an out-of-state facility by the same employer.  The Court reasoned that the lay-off broke the chain of employment.  Thus, a new contract for employment came into existence when the employee was hired out-of-state at a facility outside of Illinois and the no jurisdiction existed in Illinois courts. 


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