Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. Donald
E. O'Brien, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE DAVIS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT: Rehearing denied January 28, 1975.
Plaintiff, Burton I. Weinstein, appealed directly to this court from the judgment of the circuit court of Cook County entered in favor of defendants upon allowance of their motion to dismiss plaintiff's complaint "with prejudice." The defendants are the five members of the Illinois Industrial Commission and one of its arbitrators.
Prior to considering this matter on the merits it becomes necessary to deal with the question whether the appeal was properly taken directly to this court. This is an appeal from an action filed in the circuit court and does not seek to review an order of the Industrial Commission. It is not, therefore, appealable directly to this court under our Rule 302(a)(2). 50 Ill.2d R. 302.
The procedure to be followed when an appellant seeks to appeal directly to this court in a case to which Rule 302(a) is inapplicable is prescribed in Rule 302(b). Plaintiff did not follow that procedure, but despite the failure to comply with Rule 302(b), and because we consider the subject matter to be of considerable importance and public interest, we have elected to retain jurisdiction, without the delay which would be caused by transferring and then awaiting a 302(b) motion to transfer back to this court. Our decision so to do in this instance is not to be interpreted as indicating that future failures to comply with Rule 302(b) will be similarly treated.
Plaintiff's complaint filed "individually and on behalf of others similarly situated" contained two counts. In count I he alleged that he is an attorney at law who represents "parties having claims for adjudication by the Industrial Commission of Illinois," that section 4 of the Workmen's Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1973, ch. 48, par. 138.4) requires employers to file with the Industrial Commission certain insurance information therein prescribed, that for a long period of time information concerning such insurance was supplied by the Insurance Section of the Industrial Commission to claimants and others upon request, that plaintiff, in his capacity as attorney for a claimant, inquired of the Insurance Section as to the identity of the insurance carrier of his client's employer and that the Insurance Section refused to supply the requested information because of the following memorandum issued by the defendant Melvin Rosenbloom, Chairman of the Industrial Commission:
TO: All Attorneys, Insurance Companies, Insureds, and All Interested Parties
FROM: Chairman Melvin L. Rosenbloom, Industrial Commission
We sincerely regret that the Insurance Department of the Commission must temporarily, but indefinitely, suspend services in connection with locating and distributing carrier information.
As you know, the principal mission of the Insurance Department is to fulfill our statutory obligation of assuring that resources will be available to pay all potential claims of all employees covered by the Acts which we administer. The Commission is not now, and never has completely fulfilled this responsibility. Employees of the Insurance Department are working long hours and are performing their work most efficiently. Nevertheless, we are falling farther behind in our primary mission each day partly because of the time that employees have been spending in handling requests for carrier information.
We anticipated this problem in the preparation of our budget for fiscal year 1974. We specifically requested funds to increase our capacity in the Insurance Department with a modern computerized operation to replace what is now an obsolescent method of operation for handling the duties of this Department. Our presentation to the General Assembly detailed the nature of our needs. The House of Representatives, with only one dissenting vote, voted to approve our request in full. On a straight partisan vote, the Republican controlled Senate voted to deny our request.
In view of the foregoing, taking the action I have indicated above is the only course of action we can follow. We must attempt to fulfill our statutory obligations and are compelled to devote our available resources to those ends."
Plaintiff prayed in count I for the issuance of a mandatory injunction to require defendants to make available, upon request, the employer's insurance information in the Industrial Commission's files.
In count II plaintiff alleged that, in his capacity as attorney for a claimant he had requested a continuance of a hearing before the defendant arbitrator, that the continuance was granted but that when he refused to prepare a notice as directed by the defendant arbitrator the case was dismissed for want of prosecution. The order of ...