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Mora v. Industrial Commission

March 06, 2000

AGUSTIN MORA, SR. APPELLANT,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION AND SEVEN STAR ELECTRONICS APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 98 L 50010 Honorable Joanne L. Lanigan, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Colwell

Claimant, Agustin Mora, filed an application for adjustment of claim pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 1994)), naming Seven Stars Electronics as respondent. Although the arbitrator denied claimant's motion to amend his application to name additional respondents, he awarded claimant temporary total disability (TTD) benefits and medical expenses. The Industrial Commission (Commission) affirmed the arbitrator's decision and denied claimant's motion to add parties as respondent. On administrative review, the circuit court of Cook County confirmed.

Claimant now asks this court to determine whether the Commission erred in denying his motion to amend his application for adjustment of claim to name additional respondents. For the reasons that follow, we hold that the Commission properly denied claimant's motion.

I. BACKGROUND

On February 6, 1995, claimant sustained an injury to his left ankle while at work. Claimant was diagnosed with a closed comminuted left tibial plafond fracture. Several days after his injury, claimant underwent an open reduction/internal fixation with the implantation of hardware. On December 29, 1995, claimant filed an adjustment of claim pursuant to the Act. The application listed "Seven Star Electronics" as employer-respondent. Meanwhile, problems with claimant's ankle persisted, and on February 8, 1996, claimant underwent an arthrodesis during which hardware was removed from his ankle.

A hearing was held before an arbitrator on May 21 and 23, 1996, June 25, 1996, and September 19, 1996. Among those testifying on behalf of Seven Star Electronics was Mi Sun Park. On June 25, 1996, Mi Sun, who testified through a Korean interpreter, stated that Seven Star Electronics did not have worker's compensation insurance at the time that claimant was injured. However, she admitted paying claimant half his regular salary during part of the time that claimant remained off work. When asked what service she performed at Seven Star Electronics, Mi Sun responded, "I was just one owner." Mi Sun later explained that her husband Hyung Park was the other owner of Seven Star Electronics. Claimant's counsel did not inquire further into the form of ownership of Seven Star Electronics. At the close of testimony, the hearing was continued until July 18, 1996, ostensibly to clarify some confusion regarding the exhibits. However, the record contains no transcript from the July 18, 1996, hearing.

Meanwhile, on July 23, 1996, claimant filed an amended application for adjustment of claim. In addition to naming Seven Star Electronics as a respondent, the amended application named "Mi Sun & Hae D. Park" as additional employer-respondents.

The parties reconvened on September 19, 1996, for the purpose of conducting closing arguments. Claimant presented his closing argument first. Before beginning his argument, counsel for Seven Star Electronics informed the arbitrator that claimant's application had been amended to name Mi Sun and Hae D. Park as additional respondents. The following exchange then took place:

"THE ARBITRATOR: When was [the amended application] filed?

[CLAIMANT'S COUNSEL]: Approximately a month ago. I don't have the date.

THE ARBITRATOR: A month ago?

[SEVEN STAR ELECTRONIC'S COUNSEL]: Right. It was well subsequent to the proof, your Honor.

THE ARBITRATOR: Don't you think that the two Defendants should have a chance to defend themselves?

[CLAIMANT'S COUNSEL]: He could have brought them along today. Not only that [sic] he assumed facts that are not in evidence, he said that we have no proof that they were owners where his own witness testified --

[SEVEN STAR ELECTRONIC'S COUNSEL]: I didn't say anything along those lines. I merely submitted the position of [claimant] ...


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