Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fourth District, Workers' Compensation Commission Division
Appeal from Circuit Court of Macon County. No. 12MR845. Honorable. Albert G. Webber, Judge Presiding.
In an appeal from the award of medical expenses and permanent partial disability under the Workers' Compensation Act for claimant's repetitive-trauma injuries to her left shoulder while working in a glass factory for nearly 38 years, the appellate court, in answer to a question certified by the trial court pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 308 as to whether section 6(d) of the Act, which sets a three-year statute of limitations for filing workers' compensation claims, bars the presentation of evidence of work activities that took place more than three years prior to the date of accident, or manifestation date, of a repetitive-trauma injury, responded in the negative, since section 6(d) does not contain any evidentiary limitations but rather sets forth the time frames in which claimant's application for benefits must be filed; therefore, pursuant to De Bouse and in the interest of judicial economy, the appellate court vacated the trial court's judgment and remanded the cause for further proceedings consistent with its answer to the certified question.
Timothy M. Shay (argued) and Katherine E. Wood, both of Shay & Associates, of Decatur, for appellant.
Robert E. Maciorowski (argued), of Maciorowski, Sackmann & Ulrich, LLP, of Chicago, for appellee.
JUSTICE HARRIS delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Holdridge and Justices Hoffman, Hudson, and Stewart concurred in the judgment and opinion.
[¶1] On April 28, 2010, claimant, Carrie Bond, filed an application for adjustment
of claim pursuant to the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/1 to 30 (West 2008)), seeking benefits from the employer, PPG Industries. Following a hearing, the arbitrator determined claimant sustained repetitive-trauma injuries to her left shoulder that arose out of and in the course of her employment on March 22, 2010. She awarded claimant $3,777 in medical expenses and permanent partial disability (PPD) benefits pursuant to section 8(e) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/8(e) (West 2008)) for a 7.5% loss of use of claimant's left arm. The arbitrator also considered and rejected a statute of limitations argument raised by the employer at arbitration. She concluded the three-year limitations period set forth in section 6(d) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/6(d) (West 2008)) barred neither claimant's repetitive-trauma claim nor the presentation of evidence of claimant's work activities in excess of three years before the alleged manifestation date of her injury.
[¶2] On review, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) made various minor corrections to the arbitrator's decision and converted the arbitrator's PPD award to an award under section 8(d)(2) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/8(d)(2) (West 2008)), finding claimant was entitled to compensation of 3.8% for the loss of use of the person as a whole. The Commission otherwise affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision. On judicial review, the circuit court of Macon County was persuaded by the employer's statute-of-limitations argument. The court " remanded the case to the Commission for reconsideration with the direction to not consider evidence of the injury occurring prior to April 28, 2007, the date three years prior to the filing of [claimant's] application for adjustment."
[¶3] Additionally, the circuit court entered an order granting a motion by claimant for certification pursuant to Illinois Supreme Court Rule 308 (eff. Feb. 26, 2010). It certified the following question for an interlocutory appeal:
" Does section 6(d) of the *** Act, which sets forth a three[-]year statute of limitations for the filing of worker's [ sic ] compensation claims, act as a bar to the presentation of evidence of work activities that took place more than three years prior to the date of ...