Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Jan. 27, 2015, 7:10am

Madison County Circuit Judge Dennis Ruth has granted a transport company’s motion to dismiss three counts in a lawsuit alleging a former employee was terminated after sustaining a work-related injury.

According to the Oct. 22 lawsuit, plaintiff Christopher Faarup alleges he sustained injures when he fell on ice at W.W. Transport while cranking his trailer up on Feb. 2, 2014.

As a result of his injuries, Faarup was unable to perform his job duties, the suit states. In turn, he filed for workers’ compensation benefits.

Faarup was cleared to return to work on April 30 with the caveat that if he continued to have difficulties, his doctor would perform an MRI, the complaint states. Faarup claims he returned to work May 9 but was immediately released from his job.

W.W. Transport filed a motion to dismiss Counts II, III and IV of Faarup’s complaint on Jan. 14.

It argues that Count I alleges a claim for retaliatory discharge while Count II alleges a claim for willful and wanton retaliatory discharge. The defendant argues that Count II seeks the same damages as Count I plus punitive damages.

“Hence, whether defendant acted willfully and wantonly is not a separate cause of action; rather the issue of whether defendant acted willfully and wantonly plays a role in determining whether the issue of punitive damages can be submitted to a jury under a retaliatory discharge claim,” the motion states.

As for Counts III and IV – which claim the defendant refused to provide temporary total disability benefits and medical treatment – the defendant argues that the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has jurisdiction over the matter.

Ruth agreed and granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss Counts II, III and IV.

The defendant also answered the complaint on Jan. 14, denying the allegations against it.

Instead, W.W. Transport claims there is no connection between Faarup’s workers’ compensation claims and any alleged employment action and the same action would have been taken even without alleged retaliatory motives.

It added that any actions were taken for necessary business purposes and Faarup did not suffer any alleged adverse employment action as a result of his workers’ compensation claims.

Faarup seeks a judgment of more than $200,000, plus costs and other relief the court deems just.

Ruth scheduled a hearing for Feb. 13 at 9 a.m.

Faarup is represented by Jeffrey A. Kopis of Kopis Law Office in Belleville.

W.W. Transport, Inc., is represented by Denise Baker-Seal of Brown & James in Belleville.

Madison County Circuit Court case number 14-L-1435

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