APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Rock Island County; the Hon.
CHARLES H. CARLSTRAN, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE UNDERWOOD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
This case requires an interpretation of section 7(a) of the Workmen's Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1963, ch. 48, par. 138.7) to determine whether appellant is entitled to the benefit of the Act as a surviving child whom the deceased employee "was under legal obligation to support at the time of his accident, * * *."
On September 25, 1964, Marvin Snyder was killed in Illinois while engaged in the course of his employment for KKLP, a joint venture including appellee Palumbo Excavating Company and others. He was survived by his widow, Marie L. Snyder, and his daughter by a prior marriage, Mary Jane Snyder, both of whom filed applications for adjustment of claim with the Industrial Commission. The arbitrator made an award in favor of the widow, finding that the daughter was over the age of 18 years at the time of her father's death, emancipated and therefore not entitled to compensation. The Industrial Commission and the circuit court of Rock Island County agreed. The daughter appealed.
It is undisputed that Mary Jane and her mother resided and were domiciled in the State of Minnesota. The Minnesota district court in 1960 granted Mary Jane's mother a divorce from Marvin, awarding the mother permanent custody of Mary Jane, then 14, and ordering the father to pay $25 per week for the daughter's support until she became self-supporting, emancipated or 21. Thereafter Mary Jane and her mother continued to reside and maintain their domicile in Minnesota. Marvin paid only $1,070 in support, making no payments subsequent to June, 1963, and a total of $4,955 was due and unpaid as of the date of his death. At that time Mary Jane was 19 years of age.
The pertinent provisions of section 7 of the Workmen's Compensation Act are as follows:
"§ 7. The amount of compensation which shall be paid for an accidental injury to the employee resulting in death shall be:
"(a) If the employee leaves any widow, child or children whom he was under legal obligation to support at the time of his accident, a sum equal to 9.25 times the average earnings of the employee, but not less in any event than $10,250 and not more in any event than $13,500. When an award has been made under this paragraph, where the deceased left at the time of his death a widow and one child under 18 years of age surviving him, the compensation payments and death benefits to the extent the same were increased because of the existence of said child, insofar as same have not been paid, shall cease and become extinguished when said child arrives at the age of 18 years, if said child is physically and mentally competent at that time.
"In the event of the remarriage of a widow, where the deceased did not leave him surviving any child or children whom he was under legal obligations to support at the time of said accident, the number of weeks of compensation remaining unpaid and falling due after such remarriage shall be reduced by 50%.
"The term `such child' means a child whom the deceased employee left surviving him including a posthumous child or a child legally adopted before the accident, and who, at the time of the employee's death was under 16 years of age or who at the time of the employee's death had reached 16 but was still under 18 and was then not emancipated and is shown to have been substantially dependent upon the employee for support. The term `such children' means the plural of `such child'.
"I. Whenever in paragraph (a) of this Section a minimum of $10,250 is provided, such minimum shall be increased in the following amounts:
$11,200 in case of 1 such child;
$11,640 in case of 2 such children;
$12,830 in case of 3 or more such children.
"2. Whenever 9.25 times the average annual earnings of the deceased employee as provided in paragraph (a) of this Section amounts to more than $10,250 and to less than $13,500, the amount so payable ...