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Martin v. Board of Trustees of Police Pension Fund of Village of Shiloh

Court of Appeals of Illinois, Fifth District

November 29, 2017

DAVID MARTIN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE POLICE PENSION FUND OF THE VILLAGE OF SHILOH, Defendant-Appellant The Village of Shiloh, Intervener-Appellant.

         Appeal from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County. No. 15-MR-404 Honorable Robert P. LeChien, Judge, presiding.

          Attorney for Appellants Dennis J. Orsey, Dennis J. Orsey, P.C.

          Attorneys for Appellee Edward J. Kionka, Jon Rosenstengel, Bonifield & Rosenstengel, P.C.

          JUSTICE GOLDENHERSH delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Justices Chapman and Cates concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          GOLDENHERSH, JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Plaintiff, David Martin, applied to the Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund of the Village of Shiloh, Illinois (Board), for a line-of-duty disability pension pursuant to section 3-114.1 of the Illinois Pension Code (Code). 40 ILCS 5/3-114.1 (West 2012). Alternatively, plaintiff requested a not-on-duty disability pension pursuant to section 3-114.2 of the Code. 40 ILCS 5/3-114.2 (West 2012). The Board denied plaintiff a line-of-duty disability pension but granted him a not-on-duty disability pension.

         ¶ 2 Plaintiff sought administrative review of the Board's decision in the circuit court of St. Clair County, naming the Board as a defendant. The Village of Shiloh intervened in the proceedings. The circuit court reversed the Board's decision. On appeal, the Board argues it appropriately denied plaintiff a line-of-duty disability pension because plaintiff was not performing an "act of duty" when he was injured. For the following reasons, we affirm the circuit court's judgment reversing the Board.

         ¶ 3 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 4 Plaintiff was a detective employed by the Village of Shiloh Police Department. On May 25, 2012, while riding as a passenger in the front seat of an unmarked squad car, plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident after the squad car, which was stopped at a stoplight, was rear-ended by another vehicle. Plaintiff sustained cervical spine injuries in his neck and back. There is no dispute regarding the permanent disabilities plaintiff incurred as a result of the accident. There is also no dispute that plaintiff was on duty when the accident occurred. Specifically, plaintiff was returning to the Shiloh police department from the St. Clair County courthouse, where he was conducting police work with the State's Attorney's office. This work included obtaining subpoenas for an ongoing investigation and filing traffic tickets and other citations.

         ¶ 5 Plaintiff is a fully vested member in the Village of Shiloh Police Pension Fund. On July 15, 2013, petitioner filed an application for disability with the Board, seeking a line-of-duty disability pursuant to section 3-114.1 of the Code. 40 ILCS 5/3-114.1 (West 2012). The Village of Shiloh subsequently filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings, which was allowed without objection.

         ¶ 6 An administrative hearing was held before the Board on August 11, 2015, where plaintiff presented evidence and testimony in support of his application for a line-of-duty disability. Additionally, pursuant to the applicable provisions of the Code, the Board considered the medical reports of three licensed physicians who specialize in the treatment and examination of cervical spine injuries. 40 ILCS 5/3-115 (West 2012). In their medical reports, the physicians opined that plaintiff suffered disabling injuries as a result of the accident that would prevent him from performing the duties of a police officer. As previously stated, the parties do not dispute plaintiff suffered disabling injuries. Also at the hearing, plaintiff orally moved to amend his application, requesting, in the alternative, a not-on-duty disability pursuant to section 3-114.2 of the Code. 40 ILCS 5/3-114.2 (West 2012).

         ¶ 7 The Board entered an order denying plaintiff's request for a line-of-duty disability pension on October 19, 2015, finding plaintiff failed to meet his burden that he sustained a line-of-duty disability under section 3-114.1 of the Code. 40 ILCS 5/3-114.1 (West 2012). Instead, the Board concluded plaintiff was entitled to a not-on-duty disability pension pursuant to section 3-114.2 of the Code. 40 ILCS 5/3-114.2 (West 2012). In reaching its conclusion, the Board noted that plaintiff's request for a line-of-duty disability pension necessitates a determination of whether plaintiff was performing an "act of duty" as required for entitlement to a line-of-duty disability pension under section 3-114.1 of the Code. 40 ILCS 5/3-114.1 (West 2012). The Board outlined several factors in support of its conclusion that plaintiff failed to establish his disability resulted from the performance of an "act of duty":

Plaintiff had completed his business with the St. Clair County State's Attorney's office at the St. Clair County courthouse and was returning to the Shiloh police department at the time of the accident.
Neither the squad car nor its occupants were in apprehension of a suspect at the time of the accident, nor were the officers summoned to assist a citizen in need.
At the time of the accident, the squad car was merely at a complete stop. Such an incident is one repeated and experienced numerous times by many citizens within the community.

         Since the Board concluded plaintiff was not performing an "act of duty" at the time of the accident, it denied his application ...


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