The opinion of the court was delivered by: Presiding Justice McCULLOUGH
IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS
Appeal from the Circuit Court of Jefferson County. No. 96-MR-59 Honorable E. Kyle Vantrease, Judge, presiding.
Claimant Dixie Slover appeals from a decision of the circuit court of Jefferson County dismissing her petition against Xenia Manufacturing (Xenia) pursuant to section 19(g) of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/19(g) (West 1996)), for lack of jurisdiction. The circuit court held that the stamp of the Industrial Commission (Commission) was insufficient to make the copy of the settlement agreement certified, as is required for circuit court jurisdiction under section 19(g) of the Act. We affirm.
On November 13, 1994, Slover suffered accidental injuries arising out of her employment with Xenia. She filed a claim for workers' compensation and an application for adjustment of her claim. On July 29, 1996, Slover and Xenia entered a settlement contract that obligated Xenia to pay all of Slover's outstanding medical bills.
On October 31, 1996, Slover filed a petition pursuant to section 19(g) of the Act in the circuit court, alleging Xenia had failed to pay all of her outstanding medical bills. A standardized form settlement contract was filed with the circuit court, bearing a stamp which reads: "APPROVED and CERTIFIED pursuant to 48 IL Rev. Stat. 138.14." The stamp also includes signatures of the members of the Commission and the arbitrator.
On March 26, 1997, Xenia filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to section 2-619(a)(1) of the Civil Practice Law (735 ILCS 5/2-619(a)(1) (West 1996)), arguing the circuit court lacked jurisdiction under section 19(g) of the Act because Slover failed to file a certified copy of the settlement contract, as is required by the Act (820 ILCS 305/19(g) (West 1996)). On October 9, 1997, the motion to dismiss was granted. A reviewing court will determine the propriety of the granting of a motion to dismiss de novo. Casualty Insurance Co. v. Kendall Enterprises, Inc., 295 Ill. App. 3d 582, 586, 692 N.E.2d 752, 755 (1998).
The circuit court granted Xenia's motion to dismiss the section 19(g) petition for lack of jurisdiction because Slover failed to present a certified copy of the settlement contract at issue. The issue on appeal is whether the stamp on the settlement contract was sufficient to meet the certification requirements of section 19(g), which provides, in pertinent part:
"[E]ither party may present a certified copy of the award of the Arbitrator, or a certified copy of the decision of the Commission when the same has become final, when no proceedings for review are pending, providing for the payment of compensation according to this Act, to the Circuit Court of the county in which such accident occurred or either of the parties are residents, whereupon the court shall enter a judgment in accordance therewith." (Emphasis added.) 820 ILCS 305/19(g) (West 1996).
Providing a certified copy of the relevant document is a jurisdictional requirement, requiring strict compliance, and proof of the certified copy must affirmatively appear in the record. See Evans v. Corporate Services, 207 Ill. App. 3d 297, 302, 565 N.E.2d 724, 728 (1990). The court's inquiry is limited to a determination of whether the requirements of section 19(g) have been met. Ahlers v. Sears, Roebuck Co., 73 Ill. 2d 259, 268, 383 N.E.2d 207, 211 (1978).
Both parties agree section 19(g) requires the complainant to present a certified copy of the settlement contract to the circuit court.
The parties also agree that the copy of the settlement contract attached to the petition, which is found in the appellate record, is a copy of a stamped document and was not itself stamped. The parties dispute whether Slover may amend the appellate record to demonstrate that an original document bearing this stamp was presented to the trial court. Because we hold that an original copy of the settlement agreement bearing this stamp would still not meet the certification requirements of section 19(g) of the Act, the proposed amendment to the record would not affect the outcome, and the motion to supplement is denied.
The statutory provision for certifying documents is found in section 14 of the Act, which provides, in pertinent part:
"The Commission shall provide itself with a seal for the authentication of its orders, awards and proceedings upon which shall be inscribed the name of the Commission and the words `Illinois--Seal'.
The Secretary or Assistant Secretary, under the direction of the Commission, shall have charge and custody of the seal of the Commission and also have charge and custody of all records, files, orders, proceedings, decisions, awards and other documents on file with the Commission. He shall furnish certified copies, under the seal of the Commission, of any such records, files, orders, proceedings, decisions, awards and other documents on file with the Commission as may be required. Certified copies so furnished by the Secretary or Assistant Secretary shall be received in evidence before the Commission or any Arbitrator ...