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Illinois State Treasurer v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District

November 18, 2013

ILLINOIS STATE TREASURER, as ex officio Custodian of the Injured Workers' Benefit Fund, Appellant,
v.
THE ILLINOIS WORKERS' COMPENSATION COMMISSION et al. (Joseph Meuse, Marilyn Arnoux, Ken Schechtel d/b/a/ A New Millennium Homecare, and Janina Anna Zakarzecka, Appellees).

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois Circuit No. 10-L-51111 Honorable Margaret Brennan, Judge, Presiding.

PRESIDING JUSTICE HOLDRIDGE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Hoffman, Hudson, Turner, and Stewart concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

HOLDRIDGE PRESIDING JUSTICE

¶ 1 The claimant, Janina Zakarzecka, filed an application for adjustment of claim under the Workers' Compensation Act (the Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 et seq. (West 2006)) seeking benefits for injuries to her wrists which she allegedly sustained while working as a caregiver and companion in a private home. Because her employer was uninsured for workers' compensation, the claimant sought compensation from the Injured Workers' Benefit Fund (Fund). After conducting a hearing, an arbitrator found that the claimant's injuries were caused by an accident that arose out of and in the course of her employment and awarded the claimant temporary total disability (TTD) benefits, permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits, and medical expenses.

¶ 2 The Illinois State Treasurer (Treasurer), as ex officio custodian of the Fund, appealed the arbitrator's decision to the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (the Commission). The Commission unanimously affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision.

¶ 3 The Treasurer sought judicial review of the Commission's decision in the circuit court of Cook County, which confirmed the Commission's decision. This appeal followed. On January 7, 2013, we issued an unpublished order reversing the Commission's award of benefits. The claimant filed a timely petition for rehearing arguing, for the first time, that we lack jurisdiction to decide this appeal. We ordered the parties to brief the jurisdictional issues raised by the claimant.

¶ 4 We hold that, because the Treasurer did not file an appeal bond as required by section 19(f)(2) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/19(f)(2) (West 2012)), we lack jurisdiction to decide the Treasurer's appeal. We therefore withdraw our prior order and dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.

¶ 5 FACTS

¶ 6 The claimant worked as a home healthcare provider, caregiver, and companion to Joseph Meuse, an elderly man who was legally blind. One of her job responsibilities was to pick up Meuse's mail. In order to retrieve the mail, the claimant had to walk down a flight of stairs to the front door. On May 10, 2007, the doorbell rang, and the claimant was preparing to go downstairs to pick up a delivery. While attempting to change her shoes at the top of the stairs, the claimant fell and was injured.

¶ 7 The claimant filed an Application for Adjustment of Claim seeking benefits for her injuries and naming Meuse as the employer/respondent. Meuse died while her claim was pending. The claimant subsequently amended her claim to add Meuse's estate and Ken Schechtel as respondents.[1] She also added the Fund as a respondent because Meuse did not have workers' compensation insurance at the time of the claimant's injury.[2]

¶ 8 The arbitrator found that the claimant's accident arose out of and in the course of her employment with Meuse and awarded the claimant TTD benefits, medical expenses, and compensation for the permanent and partial loss of both of her hands. The Treasurer, acting as ex officio custodian of the Fund, appealed the arbitrator's decision to the Commission, which unanimously affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision. The Treasurer then sought judicial review of the Commission's decision in the circuit court of Cook County, which confirmed the Commission's ruling.

¶ 9 The Treasurer appealed the Commission's decision in this Court. On January 7, 2013, we issued an order reversing the Commission's award of benefits because we found that the claimant had failed to present evidence supporting a reasonable inference that her injuries arose out of a risk associated with her employment.

ΒΆ 10 Thereafter, the claimant filed a timely petition for rehearing in which she argued, for the first time, that we lack jurisdiction to decide the Treasurer's appeal. She maintained that we have no jurisdiction for two alternative reasons. First, the claimant argued that the appeal involves a claim against the State of Illinois, and is therefore barred from judicial review under section 19(f)(1) of the Act. See 820 ILCS 305/19(f)(1) (West 2012). In the alternative, the claimant argued that judicial review was barred by section 19(f)(2) of the Act because the claimant failed to file an appeal bond, a prerequisite for the circuit court's jurisdiction under that section. See 820 ILCS 305/19(f)(2) ...


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