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Sunrise Assisted Living v. Banach

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Second District

June 26, 2015

SUNRISE ASSISTED LIVING, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
HEATHER BANACH, Defendant-Appellant (The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission, Defendant)

Appeal from the Circuit Court of Lake County. No. 11-MR-1348. Honorable Jorge L. Ortiz, Judge, Presiding.

Efi Poziopoulos James, of Baum, Ruffolo & Marzal, Ltd., of Chicago, for appellant.

James P. Roach II, of Hennessy & Roach, P.C., of Chicago, for appellee.

JUSTICE BURKE delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Jorgensen and Hudson concurred in the judgment and opinion.

OPINION

BURKE, JUSTICE.

Page 190

[¶1] An arbitrator found defendant Heather Banach to be permanently partially disabled (PPD) and temporarily totally

Page 191

disabled (TTD). The Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) approved and adopted the arbitrator's decision, and plaintiff, Sunrise Assisted Living (Sunrise), paid installments according to the award. The circuit court and the appellate court affirmed the Commission's decision.

[¶2] During appellate review, Banach petitioned to increase the arbitration award under sections 19(h) and 8(a) of the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/19(h), 8(a) (West 2012)), claiming that her condition had worsened. Thereafter, Banach filed in the circuit court an application for judgment pursuant to section 19(g) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/19(g) (West 2012)), arguing that she is entitled to interest under section 2-1303 of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-1303 (West 2012)). The circuit court denied the application, ruling that section 2-1303 of the Code does not apply, because Sunrise satisfied the arbitration award by tendering all ordered payments, including interest under section 19(n) of the Act (820 ILCS 305/19(n) (West 2012)), before Banach applied for judgment under section 19(g).

[¶3] On appeal, Banach argues that she is entitled to interest under section 2-1303 of the Code. Sunrise responds that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to consider Banach's section 19(g) application, and that this court lacks jurisdiction to review the denial, because her petition to increase the arbitration award under sections 19(h) and 8(a) was pending when the application was filed. Sunrise alternatively argues that Banach is not entitled to interest under section 2-1303 of the Code because (1) the Commission's award, by itself, is not a judgment, and (2) Sunrise timely paid the amounts due under the arbitration award, including interest under section 19(n) of the Act. We hold that the trial court had jurisdiction to consider the section 19(g) application, this court has jurisdiction to review the denial, and the trial court did not err in denying Banach interest under section 2-1303.

[¶4] I. BACKGROUND

[¶5] Banach filed a workers' compensation claim against Sunrise, seeking benefits pursuant to the Act, for a work-related injury that occurred on March 6, 2007. On June 17, 2010, the arbitrator entered a decision finding that Banach's injury arose out of and in the course of her employment and that her current condition was causally related to the accident. The arbitrator ordered Sunrise to pay Banach (1) TTD benefits in the amount of $250 per week for 107 5/7 weeks; (2) PPD benefits in the amount of $225 per week for 225 weeks, because the injury caused the PPD to her person as a whole to the extent of 45% thereof; (3) $322,922 for her medical expenses; and (4) $1,520 in interest under section 19(n) of the Act.

[¶6] On July 5, 2011, the Commission affirmed and adopted the arbitrator's decision, and the trial court confirmed the Commission's decision on March 15, 2012. Sunrise timely appealed on April 11, 2012, and the appellate court affirmed the trial court's order on February 5, 2013. Sunrise Assisted Living v. Illinois Workers' Compensation Comm'n, 2013 IL App. (2d) 120424WC-U. On March 7, 2013, before the appellate court issued its mandate, Sunrise tendered three payments: $310,695 for medical expenses (after applying a $12,227 credit), $63,630 in TTD and PPD benefits (after applying a $13,924 credit), and $1,520 in interest under section 19(n) of the Act.

[¶7] On October 29, 2012, while the appeal was pending, Banach filed a petition to modify the arbitration award under Section 19(h) and 8(a) of the Act. Section 19(h)

Page 192

allows, where there is a material change in the employee's disability, either the employee or the employer to petition the Commission to review an installment award within a limited period of time. Cassens Transport Co. v. Illinois Industrial Comm'n, 218 Ill.2d 519, 527, 844 N.E.2d 414, 300 Ill.Dec. 416 (2006). Similarly, section 8(a) provides for review if additional medical expenses are incurred after the award.

[¶8] On April 1, 2013, while her petition for modification under Section 19(h) and 8(a) was pending before the Commission, Banach filed an application in the trial court for a judgment on the original award, pursuant to section 19(g) of the Act. Generally, section 19(g) provides that, " when no proceedings for review are pending," either party may present a copy of the award to the appropriate circuit court, " whereupon the court shall enter a judgment in accordance therewith." 820 ILCS 305/19(g) (West 2012). Banach contended that section 2-1303 of the Code entitled her to an additional $56,395, representing 9% interest from July 5, 2011, the date of the Commission's decision, to March 7, 2013, the date on which Sunrise tendered its first payment.

[¶9] On April 12, 2013, Sunrise moved to dismiss the application for judgment, arguing that the trial court lacked jurisdiction under section 19(g), because Banach's petition for modification was pending before the Commission. Sunrise further argued that Banach was not entitled to interest under section 2-1303 of the Code from the date of the award, because (1) the award, itself, is not a judgment for which interest would ...


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