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06/12/87 Naomi Devore, v. State Employees'

June 12, 1987

NAOMI DEVORE, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT

v.

STATE EMPLOYEES' RETIREMENT SYSTEM ET. AL., DEFENDANTS-APPELLEES



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FIRST DISTRICT, FIFTH DIVISION

510 N.E.2d 80, 156 Ill. App. 3d 790, 109 Ill. Dec. 459 1987.IL.804

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County; the Hon. David Shields, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

JUSTICE LORENZ delivered the opinion of the court. PINCHAM, J., concurs. JUSTICE MURRAY, specially Concurring.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE LORENZ

This is an appeal filed by Naomi Devore under the Illinois Administrative Review Law (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 110, par. 3-101 et seq.) from a final judgment in an administrative review action entered on December 10, 1985, affirming the October 11, 1984, decision of the State Employees' Retirement System of Illinois and the Board of Trustees of the State Employees' Retirement System of Illinois (collectively SERS) to deny plaintiff Devore's appeal of the termination of her disability benefits by SERS.

Devore contends that the Illinois Pension Code requires SERS to follow an Industrial Commission finding of permanent disability and that the doctrine of collateral estoppel precludes SERS from entering a disability determination contrary to that of the Industrial Commission. Devore further contends that the decision of SERS was against the manifest weight of the evidence.

Pertinent to our Disposition are the following facts.

On July 5, 1976, Devore injured her back in the course of her employment as a Mental Health Technician III at Manteno State Hospital in Manteno, Illinois. Shortly thereafter she filed an application for adjustment of claim with the Industrial Commission of Illinois. On December 12, 1978, the Industrial Commission entered a finding that Devore was permanently disabled as of that date as defined by the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.). After this decision issued, SERS determined that Devore was entitled to statutory occupational disability benefits. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 108 1/2, par. 14-123.) She continued to draw these benefits uninterrupted until March of 1981.

On March 28, 1981, pursuant to SERS' regulations requiring review of continued eligibility for occupational disability benefits, Devore was examined by Dr. Christian Orfei. Based upon the information provided by Dr. Orfei, Devore was informed by SERS that her occupational disability benefits were terminated as of March 31, 1981.

On June 8, 1981, Devore appealed the termination of her SERS' benefits and requested a hearing before SERS. On March 10, 1982, a hearing was held. Both Devore and SERS submitted various medical reports. Devore testified. At the Conclusion of this session, and by virtue of the conflicting medical evidence as to whether Devore was disabled as of March 31, 1981, the parties agreed to an independent medical examination by a mutually acceptable physician. Plaintiff's counsel did stress that the physician must be on the staff of a Chicago-area medical school.

On May 31, 1982, that examination took place. Devore was examined by Dr. Mridula Prasad, instructor of clinical neurology at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine.

On August 18, 1982, Devore submitted additional evidence in the form of a video deposition of her expert witness, Dr. Gerald O. McDonald. On August 31, 1982, Dr. Edward G. Ference, consulting to SERS, also testified, after reviewing the record. The SERS' Executive Committee found that Devore could perform the duties of a Mental Health Technician III as of March 31, 1981, and recommended to the SERS' Board that her

On November 24, 1982, Devore filed the first administrative review action in the circuit court of Cook County seeking review of the October 26, 1982, SERS ruling denying her appeal. The matter was remanded to SERS for further hearing to allow the parties to ...


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