from the Circuit Court of Du Page County, No. 13-MR-1316; the
Hon. Bonnie M. Wheaton, Judge, presiding.
F. Marconi, of Law Offices of Jerome F. Marconi, of Chicago,
K. Lavery and Jason A. Guisinger, of Klein, Thorpe &
Jenkins, Ltd., of Chicago, for appellee.
SCHOSTOK PRESIDING JUSTICE delivered the judgment of the
court, with opinion. Justices McLaren and Jorgensen concurred
in the judgment and opinion.
SCHOSTOK PRESIDING JUSTICE.
1 The plaintiff, Kenneth Wilczak, appeals from the trial
court's order granting summary judgment in favor of the
defendant, the Village of Lombard, on the plaintiff's
claim for health insurance benefits pursuant to the Public
Safety Employee Benefits Act (Act) (820 ILCS 320/10(b) (West
2010)). On appeal, the plaintiff, a firefighter employed by
the defendant, argues that he was injured in the line of duty
during his response to what was reasonably believed to be an
emergency and that he is thus entitled to benefits under the
Act. We affirm.
3 On August 15, 2009, the plaintiff injured his shoulder when
he was lifting a disabled citizen, who suffered from multiple
sclerosis, from the floor to the bed. The record indicates
that the plaintiff immediately began treatment for his
shoulder injury but developed complications from his injury
and was unable to continue working. On April 16, 2010, the
plaintiff filed an application for a line-of-duty disability
pension pursuant to section 4-110 of the Illinois Pension
Code (40 ILCS 5/4-110 (West 2010)). On June 14, 2012, the
board of trustees of the Lombard Firefighter's Pension
Fund granted the plaintiff's application for a
line-of-duty disability pension. ¶ 4 On August 3, 2012,
the plaintiff petitioned the defendant for health insurance
benefits under section 10 of the Act, which provides in
"(a) An employer who employs a full-time law
enforcement, correctional or correctional probation officer,
or firefighter, who, on or after the effective date of this
Act suffers a catastrophic injury or is killed in the line of
duty shall pay the entire premium of the employer's
health insurance plan for the injured employee, the injured
employee's spouse, and for each dependent child of the
injured employee ***.
* * *
(b) In order for the law enforcement, correctional or
correctional probation officer, firefighter, spouse, or
dependent children to be eligible for insurance coverage
under this Act, the injury or death must have occurred as the
result of the officer's response to fresh pursuit, the
officer or firefighter's response to what is reasonably
believed to be an emergency, an unlawful act perpetrated by
another, or during the investigation of a criminal act.
Nothing in this Section shall be construed to limit health
insurance coverage or pension benefits for which the officer,
firefighter, spouse, or dependent children may otherwise be
eligible." 820 ILCS 320/10(a), (b) (West 2010).
The defendant declined the plaintiff's request for
benefits. On December 10, 2013, the plaintiff filed, in the
circuit court of Du Page County, an amended complaint for a
declaratory judgment that he was entitled to the benefits.
The plaintiff argued that he was entitled to the benefits
because his injury occurred in response to what he reasonably
believed was an emergency. The parties filed cross-motions
for summary judgment.
5 Attached to the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment
were the discovery depositions of the plaintiff and another
firefighter, Tony Sally. The plaintiff testified that he was
a firefighter/paramedic and had been employed by the
defendant for 24 years. On August 15, 2009, he was on duty
when he received a dispatch to an address in Lombard. He
proceeded to that address in an ambulance with Sally. The
plaintiff testified that he had been dispatched to that
address on at least 10 previous occasions. In the ambulance,
he told Sally that, when he last was called to that address,
he had to call for additional firefighters to help because
the disabled citizen was stuck in the bathroom, between the
toilet and the vanity. On the day at issue, when the
plaintiff and Sally proceeded to the address, the lights and
sirens were activated ...