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06/08/94 RONALD BESS v. INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION

June 8, 1994

RONALD BESS, APPELLANT,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION, ET AL. (LYNDBLAD CONSTRUCTION COMPANY, APPELLEE).



Appeal from Circuit Court of Christian County. No. 92-MR-23. Honorable Michael P. Kiley, Judge Presiding.

McCULLOUGH, Rakowski, Woodward, Slater, Rarick

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Mccullough

PRESIDING JUSTICE McCULLOUGH delivered the opinion of the court:

Claimant, Ronald Bess, sought benefits pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.) for injuries sustained during the course of his employment with respondent, Lyndblad Construction Company (Lyndblad). An arbitration hearing was held on November 9, 1990, and Bess was awarded 8 and 4/7 weeks of temporary total disability (TTD) benefits and found to be permanently partially disabled to the extent of 10% of the man as a whole. Bess sought review before the Industrial Commission (Commission), which affirmed and adopted the decision of the arbitrator.]

The Commission's decision was issued on August 5, 1992, and Bess' attorney received it on August 11, 1992. His petition for judicialreview was filed on August 26, 1992, and a summons was issued that same day. The petition did not include either a receipt showing proof of payment of the probable cost of the record or an affidavit setting forth that such payment had been made, as required by section 19(f)(1) of the Act. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1989, ch. 48, par. 19(f)(1).) On September 14, 1992, Lyndblad filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that Bess' failure to attach such documentation deprived the circuit court of subject-matter jurisdiction. On September 21, 1992, Bess filed with the court a receipt from the Commission indicating that the probable cost of the record was paid on September 8, 1992. Lyndblad's motion to dismiss was argued on May 4, 1993, and on May 11, 1993, the circuit court granted Lyndblad's motion, finding that it was deprived of subject-matter jurisdiction by Bess' failure to provide proof of payment of the probable cost of the record within 20 days of receipt of the Commission's decision.

On appeal, Bess argues that an action is commenced when a complaint or petition is filed, not when the summons is served; that nothing in the Act in general, or section 19(f)(l) of the Act in particular, indicates that a workers' compensation proceeding is commenced by the request for or issuance of a summons; that the only limitation set forth in section l9(f)(l) of the Act is that no request for summons may be filed, nor any summons issued, until the party seeking review shall exhibit proof of payment of the probable cost of the record before the Commission; and that there is no requirement that proof of such payment be exhibited within the 20-day period or summons be issued or served within the 20-day period. Bess maintains the action was commenced in a timely manner and that the circuit court was properly vested with subject-matter jurisdiction. Bess concedes that the circuit court was without authority to issue the summons and that Lyndblad's motion to quash summons was an appropriate request, but Bess contends that dismissal of the action for want of subject-matter jurisdiction was not appropriate.

It is well settled that while circuit courts are courts of general jurisdiction and enjoy a presumption of subject-matter jurisdiction, such presumption is not available in workers' compensation proceedings, where the court exercises special statutory jurisdiction, and strict compliance with the statute is required to vest the court with subject-matter jurisdiction. Arrington v. Industrial Comm'n (1983), 96 Ill. 2d 505, 451 N.E.2d 866, 71 Ill. Dec. 712; Wabash Area Development, Inc. v. Industrial Comm'n (1981), 88 Ill. 2d 392, 430 N.E.2d 1002, 58 Ill. Dec. 751; Boalbey v. Industrial Comm'n (1977), 66 Ill. 2d 217, 362 N.E.2d 286, 5 Ill. Dec. 815.

In rendering its decision in the present case, the circuit court relied upon Arrington, in which our supreme court stated:

The Act requires that a litigant who seeks to review a decision of the Industrial Commission exhibit to the clerk of the circuit court a receipt showing payment of the amount of the probable cost of the record. If this condition precedent for the issuance of the writ is not met, the circuit court does not have subject matter jurisdiction." (Emphasis in original.) Arrington, 96 Ill. 2d at 508-09, 451 N.E.2d at 867.

The section of the Act in question in Arrington was section 19(f)(1), which at the time provided in relevant part:

"(1) Except in cases of claims against the State of Illinois, * * *, the Circuit Court * * *, shall by writ of certiorari to the Commission have power to review all questions of law and fact presented by such record.

Such suit by writ of certiorari shall be commenced within 20 days of the receipt of notice of the decision of the Commission. Such writ of certiorari and the writ of scire facias shall be issued by the clerk of such court upon praecipe returnable on a designated return day, not less than 10 or more than 60 days from the date of the issuance thereof * * *.

In its decision on review the Commission shall determine in each particular case the amount of the probable cost of the record to be filed as a return to the writ of certiorari in that case and no praecipe for a writ of certiorari may be filed and no writ of certiorari shall issue unless the party seeking to review the decision of the Commission shall exhibit to the clerk of the Circuit Court a ...


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