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Dept. of Public Aid v. Estate of Wall

OPINION FILED MARCH 5, 1980.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID, CLAIMANT-APPELLANT,

v.

THE ESTATE OF OPHELIA WALL, RESPONDENT-APPELLEE.



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon. THOMAS M. DALEY, Judge, presiding.

MR. PRESIDING JUSTICE JONES DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

The Department of Public Aid of the State of Illinois (Department) appeals from an order of the circuit court of St. Clair County which denied a claim against a decedent's estate for medical assistance furnished the decedent.

Upon the opening of decedent's estate the Department filed its claim. The claim, in affidavit form, was executed by James E. Arth acting as an authorized representative of the Department. It avers that the estate is indebted to the Department, after allowing all credits, deductions and setoffs in the amount of $6,488.19. The claim further avers that attached and made a part of the affidavit is a true and correct itemized statement of the account. The affidavit of claim concludes with the notarized signature of James E. Arth.

The attached "itemized account" recites that the estate of Ophelia Wall is indebted to the Department for money paid to and in behalf of Ophelia Wall during her lifetime under the terms of the Illinois Public Aid Code for:

"Old Age Assistance paid to Ophelia Wall from June 1975 to and including December 1976 $570.16

Paid on behalf of Ophelia Wall for Medical Supplies or Services from June 1975 to and including January 1978 $5,918.03

ASSISTANCE AWARD TOTAL $6,488.19

Of the above, $570.16 is secured by a lien, and upon payment of the lien, is reduced accordingly."

Thus, by reason of the reduction of the claim by the lien amount, the net amount of the claim asserted was $5,918.03.

The executrix of the will of decedent filed a response to the claim in which she asserted (1) she was without sufficient information to admit or deny the claim, and (2) the claim fails to state in detail the disposition of the funds allegedly paid on behalf of the deceased. The response concluded with a prayer that the court require the claimant to appear and support its claim by strict proof. The response was unverified.

A non-jury hearing was held on the claim. The attorney for the Department advised the court that there was a stipulation that "this woman had a green card, a medical card, from the Department of Public Aid, had a green card." This recited stipulation was not denied by the attorney for the executrix. As its only proof in support of the claim the Department offered the certificate of the director of the Department which listed the payments made on behalf of the decedent by the Department.

The certificate consists of two pages and is entitled at the top of the first page: "CERTIFICATION REGARDING DIRECT MEDICAL PAYMENTS." Next, the venue of the certification is placed as State of Illinois, County of Sangamon. The body of the certificate reads as follows:

"I, Arthur F. Quern, Director of the Illinois Department of Public Aid under the authority of Section 10-13.4 of the Public Assistance Code of Illinois do hereby certify that the following Direct Medical Payments in the total amount of $5,918.03 charged to the assistance payment account of Ophelia Wall, MANG (A) 111-24131 were paid in his or her behalf:

[payments listed]

The records of these payments are now on file in the offices of The Illinois Department of Public Aid and as such are a part of the records and files under my keeping as Director of the Illinois Department of Public Aid."

The certificate concludes with a blank for the date, which is not completed, and the stamped, facsimile signature of Arthur F. Quern, the director of the Department.

The certificate lists 63 separate payments for an assortment of medically related items. The purpose of each payment is shown in a column opposite its date and amount. Representative purposes of payments shown are pharmacy, transportation, physician, hospital, laboratory and nursing home. Thirteen of the 63 items are shown as collections of bills and are entitled "Twenty-one bills," "Ten bills," etc. The payments were made between June 1975 ...


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