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Appeals court allows injured pro softball player's negligence claim to proceed

Posted On: Apr. 4, 2023 12:04 PM CST

softball player

An Illinois appeals court has partially reversed a lower court ruling in a case involving an injured professional softball player, ruling the trial judge improperly dismissed a negligence claim over the employer’s alleged failure to maintain workers compensation insurance coverage.   

The First District, Fifth Division Appellate Court of Illinois Friday partially affirmed, and partially reversed, 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.

Ms. 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 concussion symptoms returned.

When the Bandits filed a comp claim with its insurer in June 2017, the adjuster told the team its policy lapsed from Sept. 12, 2015, through July 12, 2016, and that Ms. Allard’s injury would not be covered because the team had failed to pay insurance premiums during that time.  

Ms. Allard’s contract with the team terminated shortly thereafter.

Ms. Allard sued in June 2019, alleging, among other things, that she was not properly compensated for a “career-ending concussion injury” because the Bandits failed to maintain comp insurance.

The trial judge dismissed the complaint, and while the appeals court upheld most of the trial judge’s ruling, it reversed the part of the decision involving negligence over the failure to maintain comp insurance, determining that claim was not barred by the exclusive remedy provision of the comp law.

The appeals court remanded the case for further proceedings.