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02/03/88 Pauline Aper, v. National Union Electric

February 3, 1988

PAULINE APER, PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT AND CROSS-APPELLEE

v.

NATIONAL UNION ELECTRIC CORPORATION, DEFENDANT-APPELLEE AND CROSS-APPELLANT



APPELLATE COURT OF ILLINOIS, FOURTH DISTRICT

519 N.E.2d 117, 165 Ill. App. 3d 482, 116 Ill. Dec. 527 1988.IL.129

Appeal from the Circuit Court of McLean County; the Hon. Ronald C. Dozier, Judge, presiding.

APPELLATE Judges:

PRESIDING JUSTICE GREEN delivered the opinion of the court. McCULLOUGH and LUND, JJ., concur.

DECISION OF THE COURT DELIVERED BY THE HONORABLE JUDGE GREEN

Section 19(g) of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.19(g)) permits a party possessed of a workers' compensation award not subject to further review and not against the State to petition the circuit court for a judgment on the award. If the party responsible for the award "refuses to pay compensation according to such final award," the circuit court may also award the petitioner reasonable attorney fees for both the administrative proceedings in obtaining the award and the section 19(g) proceeding, and, also, reasonable costs (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1985, ch. 48, par. 138.19(g)). The purpose of section 19(g) is to provide a recipient of compensation a method of enforcing its award, because the Industrial Commission (Commission) has no power to do so.

On June 1, 1987, plaintiff Pauline Aper filed a petition under section 19(g) against defendant National Union Electric Corp. (Eureka) in the circuit court of McLean County seeking: (1) judgment on several awards she had received in a consolidated proceeding from the Commission, as finally modified by the decision of the Industrial Commission Division of the appellate court of this district; (2) interest on the awards; and (3) "reasonable costs and attorney's fees in the proceedings before the Commission." The parties agree that, as modified, these awards consisted of $220 for medical expenses and $16,281.08 for compensation, thus creating a total of $16,501.08.

After issue was drawn and a hearing held, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of plaintiff and against defendant as follows: (1) $220 for medical expenses; (2) $16,281.08 for compensation; and (3) $2,842.47 for interest on the compensation award. The interest was calculated at the rate of 9% annually, compounded annually beginning on November 25, 1985, when the Commission made the award. The circuit court ruled that interest was available only as to the compensation award and not for medical expenses. The court refused to allow any attorney fees. Defendant has appealed contending plaintiff was not entitled to interest. Plaintiff has cross-appealed contending: (1) she was entitled to interest from the date of the arbitration award; and (2) she was entitled to reasonable costs and attorney fees. We modify the award of interest to also award interest from the date of the arbitration award to the time of the Commission award and, as modified, affirm that award. We affirm the portion of the judgment denying costs and attorney fees.

The question of whether plaintiff was entitled to interest depends in part upon the meaning and application of section 19(n) of the Act and section 2 -- 1303 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) at times pertinent. Section 19(n) then provided in part:

"All decisions of the Industrial Commission confirming or increasing an award entered by an arbitrator of the Commission shall bear interest at the rate of 6% per annum from the date of the arbitrator's award on all compensation accrued." (Emphasis added.) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 48, par. 138.19(n).)

Section 2-1303 of the Code stated, except under circumstances not applicable here, " [judgments] recovered before any court shall draw interest at the rate of 9% per annum from the date of the judgment until satisfied." (Emphasis added.) Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 110, par. 2-1303.

Prior to the enactment of section 19(n) of the Act, the supreme court had held that, despite the reference to judgments recovered in courts in section 3 of the Interest Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 74, par. 3), which was predecessor to and contained similar language to section 2-1303 of the Code, recipients of workers' compensation awards for compensation were entitled to interest at the rate set forth in section 3 of the Interest Act from the date of the arbitration award. (Proctor Community Hospital v. Industrial Comm'n (1971), 50 Ill. 2d 7, 276 N.E.2d 342, citing Ill. Rev. Stat. 1967, ch. 74, par. 3.) Subsequent to the enactment of section 19(n) of the Act, this court held that when an arbitration award is upheld by the Commission, the recipient is entitled under section 19(n) to interest on a lump sum award for temporary total disability and a portion of the award for permanent partial disability, but for no interest on the portion of the award for medical expenses or upon the periodic payments ordered. Folks v. Hurlbert's Wholesale Siding & Roofing, Inc. (1981), 93 Ill. App. 3d 19, 416 N.E.2d 745.

Here, the $16,281.08 compensation award for plaintiff was reduced by the Commission. Thus, the Commission did not confirm or increase the arbitration award as expressly required by section 19(n) of the Act as a necessary element for the award to come within the coverage of section 19(n). The issue is thus presented as to whether the effect of section 19(n) is (1) to preclude the accruing of interest on the award, or (2) to leave such an award in the situation in which it would have been before the enactment of section 19(n). If the latter were the case, so much of the arbitration award as was ultimately upheld would draw interest at the rate of 9% from the time of the arbitration award.

The foregoing alternatives are the only possible interpretations, yet neither creates a sensible format for determination as to the award of interest on compensation awards under the Act. If the first alternative is applied, plaintiff is entirely deprived of interest although only a slight reduction was made in the award. If the latter alternative is applied, plaintiff receives interest at the rate of 9% per annum while, if the Commission had upheld all of the award, she would ...


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