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Illinois State Treasurer v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, Workers' Compensation Commission Division

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).

Held: [*]

The appeal of the State Treasurer from the Workers’ Compensation Commission’s confirmation of an arbitrator’s decision awarding benefits to a home healthcare provider, caregiver, and companion for injuries she suffered in a fall at the home of the person she helped was not barred as a “claim against the State, ” notwithstanding the fact that the claim was paid from the Injured Workers’ Benefit Fund, a fund made up of penalties and fines collected from uninsured employers, since the legislature provided that the money in the Fund should be treated “the same as” state funds, not that the money was state funds; therefore, the claim was not barred as a “claim against the State, ” but the Treasurer’s failure to file an appeal bond pursuant to section 19(f)(2) of the Workers’ Compensation Act did deprive the trial court of jurisdiction to review the Commission’s decision.

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, No. 10-L-51111; the Hon. Margaret Brennan, Judge, presiding.

Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, of Chicago (Michael A. Scodro, Solicitor General, and Mary C. Labrec, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel), for appellant.

Matthew J. Belcher and Brian J. Wiehe, both of Belcher Law Office, of Chicago, for appellees.

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 ...


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