Appeal from the Circuit)Court of De Kalb County No. 97MR81 Honorable John W. Countryman, Judge, Presiding
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge
Claimant, Richard Campbell-Peterson, filed a claim pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act (the Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 1996)), seeking compensation for a knee injury he sustained on August 29, 1994, while employed by Eagle Country Market (the employer). Following a September 1996 arbitrator's decision that denied him benefits, claimant filed a petition for review in October 1996 with the Illinois Industrial Commission (the Commission). In January 1997, upon the employer's motion, the arbitrator issued a corrected decision. Claimant did not file a petition for review from this corrected decision.
In December 1997, the Commission determined that claimant failed to perfect his review pursuant to section 19(f) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/19(f) (West 1996)), and it dismissed his claim based upon a lack of jurisdiction.
In May 1998, the circuit court of De Kalb County granted the employer's motion to dismiss claimant's appeal, stating, "it appears this [is a] jurisdictional issue and that the case law makes no provision which would allow for another result."
The record reveals the following procedural history of events. On September 27, 1996, the arbitrator's decision was filed with the Commission. On October 22, 1996, the decision was received by the parties. On October 24, 1996, the employer filed a motion to correct the arbitrator's decision based on a "clerical/computer error" that omitted certain portions of the decision it received from the arbitrator concerning entitlement to temporary total disability benefits. On October 29, 1996, claimant filed with the Commission his petition for review of the arbitrator's decision. Thereafter, the arbitrator granted the employer's motion to correct, and, on January 15, 1997, the Commission issued a notice stating that the arbitrator's September 1996 decision was being recalled because "a printer error was made when copies of the arbitration decision were printed for mailing."
As directed, claimant returned his decision to be corrected. On January 15, 1997, the arbitrator issued a corrected decision, which was received by the employer on January 22, 1997, and by claimant on January 24, 1997. Claimant did not file a petition for review with the Commission from this corrected decision.
The corrections made to the arbitrator's decision received by claimant included the following: on the first page, the word "CORRECTED" was added above the heading "DECISION OF ARBITRATOR"; on the last page, the percentage of interest rate for purposes of an appeal was changed from "5.30%" to "5.11%," the entry date was changed from "September 24, 1996," to "1/15/97," and an additional arbitrator's signature was added.
After learning that his claim was not pending with the Commission, claimant filed a motion for clarification and to reinstate his petition for review and order for transcript. In his motion, claimant alleged that he did not file a petition for review from the arbitrator's corrected decision because (1) the correction made by the Commission was not made within 15 days of the date of the filing of the decision as required by section 19(f); and (2) a Commission supervisor told him that it was unnecessary to file a petition for review from the corrected decision.
On December 11, 1997, the Commission granted claimant's motion for clarification but denied his request to reinstate his petition. The Commission found that the employer's motion to correct was filed within two days of its receipt of the arbitrator's September 1996 decision and therefore satisfied the 15-day filing/recall provision of section 19(f). Further, the Commission found that its personnel lacked the authority to waive jurisdictional requirements.
The Commission relied upon Kelly v. Industrial Comm'n, 203 Ill. App. 3d 626 (1990), and found that, upon the filing of a motion to correct under section 19(f) and for the purpose of preventing any confusion or inconsistency that might create confusion, the Commission retains jurisdiction so that a case may not proceed to review in the circuit court until there is finality in the decision. The Commission further relied upon McDuffee v. Industrial Comm'n, 222 Ill. App. 3d 105 (1991), and found that the time of appeal commences when the corrected decision is issued.
The Commission determined that it lacked jurisdiction over claimant's case due to his failure to perfect review following the issuance of the arbitrator's corrected decision, and it dismissed his claim.
Claimant filed a request for summons for review in the circuit court, and the employer filed a motion to dismiss his appeal based on his failure to perfect review with the Commission. On May 20, 1998, the circuit court granted the employer's motion to dismiss based on a lack of its jurisdiction over the matter.
The central issue on appeal concerns whether claimant failed to perfect review with the Commission when he failed to file a petition for review from the arbitrator's corrected decision. Claimant contends that this court should not uphold strict compliance with the "perfecting review" requirements of section 19(f) and should find that the Commission erred in refusing to entertain his petition for review.
When an issue on appeal involves a question of law, the reviewing court is not obligated to defer to the Commission's decision. Butler Manufacturing Co. v. ...