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09/23/87 Sprinkman & Sons v. the Industrial Commission

September 23, 1987

SPRINKMAN & SONS CORPORATION OF ILLINOIS, APPELLANT

v.

THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (HELEN FELDHAUS, APPELLEE.)



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, THIRD DISTRICT, INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION DIVISION

513 N.E.2d 1188, 160 Ill. App. 3d 599, 112 Ill. Dec. 579 1987.IL.1413

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Peoria County; the Hon. Robert E. Manning, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE BARRY delivered the opinion of the court. McNAMARA, WOODWARD, and KASSERMAN, JJ., concur. JUSTICE McCULLOUGH, Dissenting.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE BARRY

The respondent, Sprinkman & Sons Corporation of Illinois, appeals from a circuit court order vacating the decision of the Industrial Commission (the Commission) that it lacked jurisdiction to hear the claim of the petitioner, Helen Feldhaus. We affirm.

In July of 1979, the petitioner filed an application for adjustment of claim under the Worker's Occupational Diseases Act (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1977, ch. 48, par. 172.36 et seq.), alleging a claim for her husband's death due to his exposure to asbestos while employed by the respondent. Prior to his death, the husband had been awarded permanent total disability for asbestosis.

On April 7, 1983, the arbitrator ruled that the Commission did not have jurisdiction to adjudicate the claim. On February 28, 1984, the Commission issued a predecision memorandum affirming the arbitrator. On April 3, 1984, the Commission issued its decision adopting and affirming the ruling of the arbitrator.

On March 12, 1984, prior to the issuance of the Commission's decision, the petitioner filed a writ of certiorari for circuit court review. The circuit court, on April 25, 1986, found that the Commission had jurisdiction to hear the claim, vacated the Commission's decision and remanded the matter for further proceedings. The respondent has perfected this appeal.

The respondent argues that the order from which the petitioner sought review, the predecision memorandum, was not the final decision. The respondent argues that the petitioner's writ was premature and that the circuit court did not have jurisdiction over an interlocutory ruling of the Industrial Commission.

The petitioner contends that she substantially complied with the filing requirement for circuit court review as set forth in section 19(f)(1) of the Workers' Compensation Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1983, ch. 48, par. 138.19(f)(1).) The petitioner contends that because the Commission's decision in the predecision memorandum was the same as in its final decision, the circuit court reviewed what was in effect the final decision of the Commission.

A circuit court shall have the power to review the decision of the Industrial Commission. The proceeding for review shall be commenced within 20 days of the receipt of notice of the Commission's decision. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.19(f)(1).) In Illinois, a circuit court's jurisdiction to review a decision of the Industrial Commission is a special statutory power, limited by the statute's provisions. (Daugherty v. Industrial Com. (1983), 99 Ill. 2d 1, 457 N.E.2d 381; American Can Co. v. Industrial Com. (1986), 149 Ill. App. 3d 83, 500 N.E.2d 544.) While circuit courts are courts of general jurisdiction and are presumed to have subject matter jurisdiction, this presumption is not available in compensation cases. Strict compliance with section 19(f)(1) is normally required before a circuit court is vested with subject matter jurisdiction. Arrington v. Industrial Com. (1983), 96 Ill. 2d 505, 451 N.E.2d 866; Malone v. Industrial Com. (1986), 141 Ill. App. 3d 116, 489 N.E.2d 1167.

However, courts have found jurisdiction based on substantial compliance with the requirements of section 19(f)(1). Principal among these cases is Republic Steel Corp. v. Industrial Com. (1964), 30 Ill. 2d 311, 196 N.E.2d 654. In Republic, the petitioner filed a surety bond with the clerk of the circuit court. The clerk approved the bond, but did not note that approval on the face of the bond. The circuit court allowed the respondent's motion to quash for lack of the clerk's express approval on the face of the bond, as required by Village of Glencoe v. Industrial Com. (1933), 354 Ill. 190, 188 N.E. 329. The supreme court, in reversing the circuit court, noted that the tendency of the courts has been to simplify procedure, honor substance over form and prevent technicalities from depriving a party of the right to be heard. The court found that the statute did not require the clerk's written approval on the bond. Rather, it found that where a clerk accepted the bond without objection, approval by the clerk would be presumed and deemed to be sufficient to satisfy the statute.

In Bethlehem Steel Corp. v. Industrial Com. (1968), 41 Ill. 2d 40, 241 N.E.2d 444, the circuit court denied the respondent's motion to quash for the petitioner's failure to name in the praecipe the respondent's attorneys of record as required by section 19(f)(1). The supreme court upheld the circuit court's ruling on the grounds both that an attorney appeared for the respondent's law firm before the Commission, the circuit court and the supreme court and that the attorney did not deny that service was made upon him.

In Berry v. Industrial Com. (1973), 55 Ill. 2d 274, 302 N.E.2d 277, the petitioner did not file a receipt showing payment of probable costs of record as the statute required. However, the clerk of the circuit court verified the petitioner's payment via a telephone call to the Commission. The supreme court, relying on Republic, found that the requirements of the statute were met. Noting that the purpose of the statutory requirement was to coerce the payment of the probable costs of ...


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