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City of Chicago v. Industrial Commission

May 23, 2002

CITY OF CHICAGO, RESPONDENT-APPELLANT,
v.
THE INDUSTRIAL COMMISSION ET AL. (GIUSEPPE CIANCI, PETITIONER-APPELLEE).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois No. 00--L--50875 Honorable Alexander P. White Judge, Presiding

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice Holdridge

UNPUBLISHED

Giuseppe Cianci was injured during an industrial accident while working for the City of Chicago. He later received a retroactive pay raise covering work he performed before his accident. He filed an Application for Adjustment of Claim seeking workers' compensation benefits for his injuries. The matter proceeded to an arbitration hearing. When calculating Cianci's average weekly wage (AWW), the arbitrator refused to consider his earnings from the retroactive pay raise. On review, the Illinois Industrial Commission (Commission) held that the retroactive earnings should be included in the AWW calculation. The Cook County circuit court confirmed the Commission's holding, and the City filed this appeal. We affirm.

BACKGROUND

Cianci's industrial accident occurred on February 14, 1996. At that time, his labor union was negotiating a pay raise with a retroactive effective date of July 1, 1995. Cianci testified that he knew the negotiations were occurring when he was injured. The raise was later approved, and Cianci received a lump sum payment for the amount that accrued between July 1, 1995, and his accident. He testified that he was familiar with this procedure and had received other retroactive raises in the past.

At the arbitration hearing, the arbitrator awarded permanent total disability benefits based on an AWW of $670.82. That figure did not include the earnings from Cianci's retroactive pay raise. The arbitrator excluded such earnings because "the retroactive pay raise was not in effect at the time of the injury." (Emphasis in original.)

Both parties sought review of the arbitrator's decision before the Commission, which modified Cianci's AWW to include the earnings from his retroactive pay raise. The modification resulted in an AWW of $698.83. The Commission otherwise affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision.

The City appealed the Commission's AWW modification to the Cook County circuit court. The court confirmed the modification, and the City filed this appeal.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

The City's claim turns on construction of section 10 of the Workers' Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/10 (West 2000)). Statutory construction involves a question of law invoking de novo review. King v. Industrial Comm'n, 189 Ill. 2d 167 (2000).

ANALYSIS

The primary goal of statutory construction is to ascertain and effectuate the legislature's intent. Modern Drop Forge Corp. v. Industrial Comm'n, 284 Ill. App. 3d 259 (1996). The best indicator of legislative intent is the plain and ordinary meaning of the statutory language. Illinois Graphics Co. v. Nickum, 159 Ill. 2d 469 (1994). We will not resort to extrinsic aids for construction in lieu of applying such meaning. See Bogseth v. Emanuel, 166 Ill. 2d 507 (1995).

Section 10 reads:

"The compensation shall be computed on the basis of the `Average weekly wage' which shall mean the actual earnings of the employee in the employment in which he was working at the time of the injury during the period of 52 weeks ending with the last day of the employee's last full pay period immediately preceding the date of injury, illness or ...


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