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Coordinating Committee v. O'connor

OPINION FILED DECEMBER 31, 1981.

COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF MECHANICAL SPECIALTY CONTRACTORS ASSOCIATION ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

PHILIP R. O'CONNOR, DIRECTOR OF INSURANCE, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES. — (CONTINENTAL CASUALTY COMPANY ET AL., APPELLANTS).



APPEAL from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. JAMES C. MURRAY, Judge, presiding. MR. JUSTICE JOHNSON DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Rehearing denied January 29, 1981.

This is an interlocutory appeal from an order denying a motion to vacate a stay order in an action for administrative review of a workmen's compensation rate filing approved by the Director of Insurance.

The issue presented for review is whether it was error for the court to stay the order of the Director of Insurance where allegedly plaintiffs failed to demonstrate good cause or a likelihood of prevailing on the merits.

On November 20, 1978, the Insurance Services Office of Illinois (ISO) made rate filing WC 78-2 with the Director of Insurance (Director), which proposed a 36.8% average increase in workmen's compensation insurance rates. The Director disapproved the WC 78-2 rate filing. ISO requested a hearing and Walter Schaefer was appointed as hearing officer by the Director, and the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) was substituted for ISO.

The hearing was convened on December 26, 1978, and plaintiffs, Coordinating Committee of Mechanical Specialty Contractors Association et al. were granted leave to intervene. The hearings were concluded on April 20, 1979, and the opinion and recommendations of the hearing officer were filed with the Director on July 11, 1979. The hearing officer's report found some aspects of the proposed rate filing excessive, but recommended that an amended rate filing be accepted.

On July 26, 1979, the Director issued an order adopting portions of the hearing officer's report and permitting NCCI to make an amended filing for a 23.8% average rate increase.

On August 3, 1979, NCCI amended its filing in accord with the Director's order. On August 16, 1979, the Director approved the amended filing, effective September 1, 1979.

On August 22, 1979, plaintiffs filed suit in the nature of a class action seeking judicial review of the Director's orders of July 26, 1979, and August 16, 1979. Plaintiffs alleged that the orders conflicted with the findings of the hearing officer. On August 30, 1979, plaintiffs petitioned the circuit court for an order staying the 23.8% rate increase. On August 31, 1979, the court issued a temporary stay until further argument. On September 5, 1979, the court continued the provisional stay to September 10 for further argument.

On September 10, 1979, CNA (the intervenor) was granted leave to intervene and entered its appearance and motion objecting to any stay order. Although CNA objected, the trial court entered a stay order. CNA was given leave to amend its motion to vacate the stay order, and the court set the hearing for September 21, 1979.

On September 21, 1979, the court heard arguments on the motion to vacate the stay. CNA stated in its motion that there was no showing of good cause because there were no allegations that the findings of fact of the Director or hearing officer were contrary to the manifest weight of the evidence and plaintiffs were required to show a likelihood of prevailing on the merits. Plaintiffs' response asserted the stay protected all parties and the court had both inherent and statutory authority to stay administrative orders. They also asserted that they had shown good cause for issuance of a stay order.

The court denied CNA's motion to vacate the stay order.

On this appeal, CNA asserts that plaintiffs should have been denied the stay order because there was no showing of good cause or a likelihood of prevailing on the merits.

• 1 It is not disputed that the circuit court has the discretionary power to stay the decision of an administrative agency pending final disposition of the review of that decision. Cahokia Sportservice, Inc. v. Illinois Liquor ...


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