An Illinois appellate court has partially reversed a lower court decision in a case involving an injured professional softball player, ruling that the trial judge improperly dismissed a negligence claim based on the employer’s alleged failure to maintain workers’ comp insurance coverage.
The First District, Fifth Division Appellate Court of Illinois on Friday affirmed in part, and reversed in part, a Cook County Circuit Court judge’s decision in a case brought by Emily Allard, who played for the Chicago Bandits professional women’s softball team from 2014 to 2016.
Allard suffered a head injury in June 2016 while playing against the Akron Racers at Firestone Stadium in Ohio.
She attempted to return to the field the following summer, but her concussions recurred.
When the Bandits filed a claim with their insurer in June 2017, the adjuster told the team that its policy ran from September 12, 2015, to July 12, 2016, and that Allard’s injury would not be covered because the team had failed to pay insurance premiums during that time.
Allard’s contract with the team was terminated shortly thereafter.
Allard sued in June 2019, alleging, among other things, that she was not properly compensated for a “career-ending concussion” because the Bandits failed to maintain insurance.
The trial judge dismissed the complaint, and while the appellate court affirmed most of the judge’s ruling, it reversed the part of the decision involving negligence for the failure to maintain insurance coverage, finding that the claim was not barred by the exclusive remedy provision of that comp law.
The Court of Appeal referred the case back for further processing.