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Tempel Steel Co. v. Industrial Commission

Illinois Appellate Court

August 03, 1999


Appeal from Circuit Court Cook County No. 97L50756 Honorable Thomas P. Quinn, Judge Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Rarick

Claimant, Chaudry Z. Khan, sought benefits pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1991, ch. 48, par. 138.1 et seq.) for injuries related to a fall suffered at work on February 28, 1992, while in the employ of Tempel Steel Company, employer. The arbitrator awarded claimant benefits in connection with his back injury (temporary total disability, 20% loss of use of the man as a whole and medical expenses) but found no causal connection between his employment and condition of demyelinating polyneuropathy and denied any award for permanent and total disability. On review, the Industrial Commission (Commission) affirmed the decision of the arbitrator. The circuit court of Cook County, however, determined the Commission's finding of no permanent total disability was against the manifest weight of the evidence and remanded the matter for an award of permanent total disability benefits. Employer appeals contending the decision of the circuit court finding permanent total disability is against the manifest weight of the evidence and contrary to law. We cannot address this contention, however, because we find we have no jurisdiction to address any matter on appeal.

The circuit court reversed the decision of the Commission and remanded the cause for an award of permanent and total disability. While both parties contend the circuit court's order is final and appealable because the remand order did not allow any further legal decision and only required a mathematical calculation of the award (see Wilkey v. Illinois Racing Board, 96 Ill. 2d 245, 249, 449 N.E.2d 843, 844 (1983); Porter v. Industrial Comm'n, 352 Ill. 392, 186 N.E. 110 (1933)) we conclude otherwise.

It is true that a trial court's order remanding a case to an agency does not automatically render an order non-final. Page v. City of Chicago, 299 Ill. App. 3d 450, 457, 701 N.E.2d 218, 223 (1st Dist. 1998). If upon remand the court or agency is only required to enter a judgment in accordance with the direction of the reviewing court or to conduct further proceedings on uncontroverted incidental matters, the order is final and reviewable. Wilkey, 96 Ill. 2d at 249, 449 N.E.2d at 844. When the case is remanded, however, for a new trial, hearing de novo, or other further proceedings involving disputed questions of fact, the order is not final. "The ultimate question to be decided in each case is whether the judgment fully and finally disposes of the rights of the parties to the cause so that no material controverted issue remains to be determined." 96 Ill. 2d at 249, 449 N.E.2d at 844. This rule is applicable to circuit court review of Commission decisions. The Supreme Court case A.O. Smith Corp. v. Industrial Comm'n, 109 Ill. 2d 52, 485 N.E.2d 333 (1985), illustrates this point. In A.O. Smith, the Commission denied death benefits. The circuit court reversed and remanded the case to the Commission for a calculation of benefits. Unlike the instant case, the parties in A.O. Smith had stipulated to the facts, including the amount of decedent's earnings and weekly benefits.

The supreme court held that the order was final for purposes of appeal. "The calculation of the amount of the award *** [was] a simple mathematical process ***." A.O. Smith, 109 Ill. 2d at 54-55, 485 NE.2d at 336. *fn1 Here the cause was remanded to the Commission to calculate permanent total disability benefits. Although this may be a simple mathematical process in cases where the facts are undisputed, such is not the case in this instance. Approximately 10 days before oral argument, we issued an order asking if the parties were prepared to agree on the amount of decedent's average weekly wage. We asked this question again at oral argument. Despite our efforts, neither party was prepared to agree. As such, absent an agreement or stipulation, we cannot say that calculation of benefits is a simple mathematical process.Accordingly we must dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction. Stockton v. Industrial Comm'n, 69 Ill. 2d 120, 124, 370 N.E.2d 548, 550 (1977); Kendall County Public Defender's Office v. Industrial Comm'n, No. 2-98-0486WC, slip op. at 4 (April 19, 1999).

Our decision does not deprive the parties of the right to judicial review. Once the Commission makes an award pursuant to the remanding order, it will then be reviewable by the circuit court, and if affirmed, will be a final order which is appealable to this court. Upon review of this final order, we will then be authorized to review the entire record and determine the propriety of the circuit court's original order reversing and remanding the matter to the Commission. Stockton, 69 Ill. 2d at 125-26, 370 N.E.2d at 550; Kendall County, slip op. at 4.

As a note of caution, a problem arises when the parties fail to recognize and appeal from a remand order that is final for purposes of appeal as occurred in Martin v. Cajda, 238 Ill. App. 3d 721, 606 N.E.2d 566 (1st Dist. 1992). In Martin, the Chicago Police Board found that Cajda, a Chicago police officer, violated the City's residency requirement and, as a result, ordered a 60-day suspension. The superintendent of police sought administrative review, contending that violations of the residency rule required an order of discharge and that the Board was without authority to issue the suspension. The circuit court agreed and remanded the case to the Board for entry of a discharge order. Apparently believing that the order was interlocutory, Cajda did not appeal. Three months later, the Board complied with the court's order, discharging Cajda from the department. Cajda then filed his notice of appeal. In addressing its jurisdiction, the court held that the remand order was final for purposes of appeal and that the appellate clock started to run when the remand order was entered. "The court's March 15, 1991, order remanded the cause back to the Board with specific instructions to discharge Cajda. The Board had no discretion; its only option was to comply with the order of the trial court." 238 Ill. App. 3d at 726, 606 N.E.2d at 570. "[T]he trial court left it no facts to redetermine nor any legal issues to redecide--the archetypical remand order that *** [is] substantively final and thus appealable." 238 Ill. App. 3d at 737, 606 N.E.2d at 571.

The lesson of course is that the party who appeals a non-final order suffers only the temporary inconvenience of having its interlocutory appeal dismissed. The result of failing to appeal from a final order of remand, however, may result in a permanent loss of appeal rights.



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