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Mounce v. Tri-state Motor Transit Co.

ILLINOIS APPELLATE COURT — THIRD DISTRICT REVERSED AND REMANDED.


OPINION FILED DECEMBER 12, 1986.

DONALD MOUNCE ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLEES,

v.

TRI-STATE MOTOR TRANSIT COMPANY, INC., ET AL., DEFENDANTS (THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION ET AL., INTERVENORS-APPELLANTS).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of La Salle County; the Hon. Alexander T. Bower, Judge, presiding.

JUSTICE STOUDER DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Plaintiffs, Donald Mounce and Leo Zurinski, employees of the Department of Transportation (DOT), filed suit against defendants, Tri-State Motor Transit Company, Inc., and Morris E. Strickland, for injuries sustained in an automobile accident. Shortly after commencement of the suit, the parties negotiated a settlement. The parties petitioned the circuit court of La Salle County for approval of disbursement of the proceeds of the settlement via a structured settlement. DOT and the State Employees' Retirement System of Illinois (SERSI) intervened to protect their statutory liens on amounts paid or to be paid under section 5(b) of the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.5(b)) and the Illinois Pension Code (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 108 1/2, par. 14-129). DOT and SERSI (the intervenors) appeal from the judgment of the circuit court adjudicating their liens and subrogation rights and ordering disbursement of the funds of the settlement on a pro rata basis.

By the terms of the settlement, defendants agreed to pay $13,500 to Mounce in settlement of his claim. Defendants also agreed to pay Zurinski $150,000 in total settlement of his claim — $50,000 on the date of settlement and $100,000 in a 10-year structured settlement. The intervenors were granted leave to intervene to protect their statutory liens and plaintiffs filed a petition to adjudicate lien. At the time of the hearing on the petition, DOT had paid Zurinski $45,742.28 pursuant to an order of the Industrial Commission (the Commission) and SERSI had paid $14,089.03 in occupational disability benefits. SERSI is continuing to make monthly occupational disability payments to Zurinski of $1,356 offset by the Workers' Compensation benefits. There is also the possibility of future medical payments to be disbursed by DOT. DOT does not appeal the settlement amount as to Mounce but does request that the trial court judgment be remanded for computation of costs upon verification by Mounce's attorney. Prior to the hearing, Zurinski had filed a petition with the Commission seeking an increase in his benefits. At oral argument, this court was informed the petition has been withdrawn, and, therefore, there is no need for further consideration on the issue as to whether disbursement should be delayed until the time of such determination.

The structured settlement purported to disperse the settlement funds in the following amounts:

(A) The first $50,000:

Prorated portion of DOT lien ........... $11,151.41 Prorated portion of attorney fees ...... $16,667.67 Reimbursement of costs & expenses ....... $2,956.13 Prorated portion of SERSI lien .......... $4,368.37 Deposit to trust account ............... $14,856.42

(B) The remaining $100,000 in a 10-year structured settlement in payments of $833.33 for 120 months:

Prorated portion of DOT lien .............. $185.86 Prorated portion of attorney fees ......... $277.78 Prorated portion of SERSI lien ............. $72.81 Deposit to trust account .................. $296.88 *fn1


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