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211 Landmark Drive, Suite C2, Normal, IL 61761

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Legal Recreational Use of Marijuana Is Coming What Employers Should Know

July 2019

By: W. Scott Trench

W. Scott Trench

The Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act (the "Act"), signed by Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker on June 25, 2019, becomes effective on January 1, 2020. The Act legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 years or older. What does this mean for employers in Illinois? In short, perhaps not all that much. The Act includes important protections for employers which are summarized below.

Zero Tolerance/Drug Free Workplace Policies

The Act does not prohibit an employer from adopting zero tolerance or drug free workplace policies, including employment policies concerning drug testing. Accordingly, Illinois employers with existing zero tolerance, drug free work place and drug testing policies may continue to enforce these policies when recreational use of marijuana becomes effective on January 1, 2020, as long as these policies are applied in a non-discriminatory manner.

The Exclusive Remedy Provision of The Workers' Compensation Act Must be Considered When Determining Coverage for Additional Insureds

June 2019

By: W. Scott Trench

W. Scott Trench

General contractors in the construction industry typically require subcontractors to procure insurance naming the general contractor as an "additional insured" on the subcontractor's commercial general liability policy. The scope of coverage afforded to the general contractor as an additional insured depends on the policy language, which often times attempts to limit coverage to liability caused by the acts or omissions of the subcontractor. In Illinois, courts will generally compare the allegations in the complaint to the policy language in determining whether a general contractor is covered by the subcontractor's policy of insurance. What if the subcontractor is not named as a defendant in the underlying complaint? Does an insurer have a valid basis to deny coverage because the complaint has no allegations that the general contractor's liability was caused by an act or omission of the subcontractor? The Illinois Court of Appeals (4th District) recently addressed these questions in Core Construction v. Zurich American Insurance, 2019 IL App (4th) 180411.

Core Construction (Core) was a general contractor for the construction of a building and subcontracted with Schindler Elevator Corporation (Schindler) to install escalators at the project. Schindler was required to name Core as an additional insured on its commercial general liability policy issued by Zurich American Insurance Company (Zurich). An employee of Schindler was injured at the project and filed suit against Core.

Another Victory for Snow Removal Contractors

Jordan v. Kroger Co., 2018 IL App (1st) 180582

June 2019

By: William F. Moore

William F. Moore

On December 18, 2018, snow removal contractors in Illinois scored another victory in their never ending battle against slip-and-fall claims. The First District of Illinois Appellate Court affirmed summary judgment in favor a snow removal contractor finding that business invitees are not third-party beneficiaries of snow and ice removal contracts.

In Jordan v. Kroger Co., 2018 IL App (1st) 180582, the Plaintiff slipped and fell on a formation of black ice outside of a grocery store. Without any evidence to establish that the black ice was an unnatural accumulation caused or created by the landowner or snow removal contractor, the Plaintiff turned to the contract between the landowner and a local snow removal contractor in an attempt to create a question of fact and survive summary judgment. Relying on Section 324A of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, the Plaintiff argued that both the landowner and the snow removal contractor voluntarily undertook a duty to remove both natural and unnatural accumulations of snow and ice on the property and, therefore, they both may be held liable in tort to third parties for negligently failing to fulfill their assumed duties and allowing black ice to form in the parking lot.

Relying on Wells v. Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., 171 Ill.App.3d 1012 (1st Dist 1988), where the injured party was similarly unable to present any evidence that the ice she slipped on was an unnatural accumulation, but argued nonetheless that the snow removal contractor could still be held liable based on its failure to completely remove all snow from the premises as required under its contract with the landowner, the Court restated its long held position that merely entering into a snow removal contract does not create a duty on the part of the contracting parties to protect third parties from natural accumulations of snow and ice where the third party does not actually rely on the contract.

Precision in Litigation Cuts Large MSA by Almost Half

May 2019

By: Paul W. Pasche

The claimant, a certified nursing assistant, injured her right hand when a patient grabbed it, squeezing and twisting.

Her treating physician found no significant bone or muscle injury, but nevertheless diagnosed complex regional pain syndrome of the right upper extremity. Within eleven months of the accident, a spinal cord stimulator was implanted to control claimant’s right hand and arm pain.

Over a year later, the claimant first complained of left hand and thorax pain. The claimant’s physician diagnosed complex regional pain syndrome “spreading to the left upper extremity.” The employer’s examining expert disagreed, noting not only the time delay in reporting left side symptoms, but also that the claimant’s left-sided symptoms were not consistent with chronic regional pain syndrome. There was also an issue as to the level of work the claimant could perform on a permanent basis.

Must Petitioner Take a Transitional Job?

May 2019

By: Francis M. Brady

“The Act is meant to compensate a claimant for economic disabilities that diminishes his value in the labor market…” And of course “(it’s) remedial in nature.”

These statements and pronouncements of their ilk are familiar to Illinois employers and representatives. Made by the Commission or Courts, they instinctively lead to the sinking realization that: “We’ve lost another one.”

Limiting The Impact of Opioids

April 2019

By: Francis M. Brady

Outside of “medical marijuana,” the term most often heard recently regarding healthcare in Illinois, and by extension, workers’ compensation practice, is “opioid crisis.” Unlike the alarm over marijuana, where there is no actual experience underlying the sense of foreboding, concerns over opioid usage are founded upon hard data.1

Per the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), opioids are “a class of drugs that include heroin; common prescription pain relievers such as oxycodone and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Percocet, Oxycontin); and, synthetically manufactured analogs such as Fentanyl.” The IDPH warns that “…physical tolerance to opioids can develop in as few as 2-3 days of continuous use...opioids affect respiratory regulation of the brain and an overdose can cause someone to stop breathing…”

  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • IRTB
  • DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
  • Chicago Bar Association
  • Workers' Compensation Lawyers Association
  • IRTB
  • DRI - The Voice of the Defense Bar
  • The Illinois Association of Defense Trial Counsel
  • Illinois Self-Insurers' Association
10 South LaSalle Street, Suite 900
Chicago, IL 60603
Phone: 312-425-3131
211 Landmark Drive, Suite C2
Normal, IL 61761
Phone: 309-862-4914
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