No. 46064. Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First
District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of
Cook County; the Hon. Richard A. Harewood, Judge, presiding.
No. 46779. Appeal from the Circuit Court of Richland County;
the Hon. Carrie L. Winter, Judge, presiding.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE UNDERWOOD DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Rehearing denied January 28, 1975.
William J. Scott, Attorney General, of Chicago (John D. Whitenack, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellant.
Willis P. Ryan and Dale A. Cini, of Ryan and Cini, Ltd., of Mattoon, for appellee.
On May 25, 1967, plaintiff Richard Matthews, a minor, was injured at New Olney Lake, Olney, Illinois; he subsequently filed a personal injury action against the City of Olney. On January 3, 1968, plaintiff Steven Davis, a minor, was injured by a police vehicle in Chicago, Illinois; he subsequently filed a personal injury suit against the City of Chicago and the police officer who was driving the vehicle. In each case the Department of Public Aid intervened pursuant to section 11-22 of the Public Aid Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 23, par. 11-22) to assert against any recovery by the plaintiffs a lien for medical treatment rendered and paid for by the Department.
In Matthews the cause was settled for $131,553.50 and the trial court reduced by 1/3 the State's claim of $15,526.83 in order to assist in the payment of plaintiff's attorney's fees, and also deducted a pro-rata share of the costs from the State's claim. The State appealed and, pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 302(b) (50 Ill.2d R. 302(b)), we transferred the case here.
In Davis the matter was settled for $15,000 and the trial court reduced the State's asserted lien of $1,028.88 to $100. On appeal, the Appellate Court for the First District first concluded that the statute (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 23, par. 11-22) allowed the reduction of the State's lien and was not unconstitutional under the 1970 Constitution, but that the trial court had nevertheless abused its discretion in reducing the lien to $100 considering the amount of the recovery and the amount to be received by plaintiff. On rehearing, however, the appellate court determined that the trial court lacked constitutional authority to reduce the State's lien since section 11-22 was enacted under the Constitution of 1870, and section 23 of article IV of that document forbade the release or extinguishment of any indebtedness, liability or obligation to the State. The appellate court concluded that the State's lien should be paid in full. (Davis v. City of Chicago, 13 Ill. App.3d 160.) We granted plaintiff's petition for leave to appeal
Both Matthews and Davis were consolidated with Bender v. City of Chicago, No. 45587, then pending in this court. Bender has since been disposed of on non-constitutional grounds in a separate opinion. 58 Ill.2d 284.
At the time Davis and Matthews filed their complaints, section 11-22 of the Public Aid Code provided:
"The Illinois Department shall have a charge upon all claims, demands and causes of action for injuries to an applicant for or recipient of financial aid under Articles III, IV and V for the total amount of medical assistance provided the recipient from the time of injury to the date of recovery upon such claim, demand or cause of action.
On petition filed by the Illinois Department, or by the local governmental unit or county if either is claiming a charge, or by the recipient, or by the defendant, the court, on written notice to all interested parties, may adjudicate the rights of the parties and enforce the charge. The court may approve the settlement of any claim, demand or cause of action either before or after a verdict, and nothing in this Section shall be construed as requiring the actual trial or final adjudication of any claim, demand or cause of action upon which the Illinois Department, the local governmental unit or county has charge. The court may determine what portion of the recovery shall be paid to the injured person and what portion shall be paid to the Illinois Department, the local governmental unit or county having a charge against the recovery." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 23, par. 11-22.
At that time section 23 of article IV of the 1870 Constitution provided:
"The General Assembly shall have no power to release or extinguish, in whole or in part, the indebtedness, liability, or obligation of any corporation or individual to this ...