Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Marquardt v. City of Des Plaines

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District

February 6, 2018

JOHN MARQUARDT, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
THE CITY OF DES PLAINES, a Municipal Corporation, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County. No. 15 CH 9477 The Honorable Franklin U. Valderrama, Judge Presiding.

          JUSTICE PUCINSKI delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Neville concurred in the judgment and opinion. Justice Mason dissented, with opinion.

          OPINION

          PUCINSKI JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 Plaintiff John Marquardt, a former police officer employed by the City of Des Plaines (City), filed a complaint against the defendant City after it denied his request for benefits pursuant to the Public Safety Employee Benefits Act (Act) (820 ILCS 320/1 et seq. (West 2010)). The parties subsequently filed cross-motions for summary judgment contesting Marquardt's eligibility for benefits under the Act, and after considering the filings, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of Marquardt and against the City, concluding that the City erred in finding that Marquardt was ineligible for benefits under the Act and in denying his petition for benefits. The City has appealed the court's ruling. For the reasons explained herein, we affirm the judgment of the circuit court.

         ¶ 2 BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 The following facts have been adduced from the pleadings and accompanying exhibits. Marquardt commenced employment as a full-time police officer for the City on July 2, 1984. During his tenure as an officer, Marquardt was assigned to the City's traffic unit. At approximately 11:45 a.m. on August 12, 2010, while on duty, Marquardt pulled over a semitrailer truck that was being driven by George Khoshaba. The truck's tires were compressed, and it appeared to be operating with an overweight load. After effectuating the traffic stop, Marquardt directed Khoshaba to drive to a local weighing station so that his trailer could be weighed. Khoshaba complied, and Marquardt confirmed his suspicion that the truck was, in fact, overweight. After ascertaining the weight of Khoshaba's truck, Marquardt climbed up the truck's ladder to inspect the load. As he was doing so, Marquardt felt a "pop" in his left knee. He then carefully descended the ladder and proceeded to his patrol car, where he completed paperwork on the traffic stop. Marquardt then issued Khoshaba a traffic citation pursuant to section 15-111 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/15-111 (West 2010)), which prohibits a driver from operating a vehicle over the permissible weight on an Illinois roadway. After issuing Khoshaba the citation and completing a "Des Plaines Police Overweight Report, " Marquardt used his radio to inform dispatch and his supervisor that he had injured his knee and returned to the police department.

         ¶ 4 Marquardt was subsequently diagnosed with left medial and lateral meniscus tears in his left knee. He underwent surgery to repair his knee injury on November 22, 2010. Following the surgery, Marquardt completed a year of physical therapy and obtained other treatment; however, his condition did not improve, and he underwent a total knee replacement surgery on March 6, 2012. Following that procedure, Marquardt filed an application for a line-of-duty disability pension pursuant to section 3-114.1 of the Illinois Pension Code (40 ILCS 5/3-114.1 (West 2010)) with the City's Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund (Pension Board). A hearing on Marquardt's application subsequently took place, and on October 30, 2012, at the conclusion of that hearing, the Pension Board determined that Marquardt's injury was sustained while he was "on duty as a police officer for the City of Des Plaines and occurred 'in the performance of an act of duty' as defined by the Pension Code." Accordingly, the Pension Board awarded him a "duty disability pension *** in the amount of 65% of the salary attached to his rank as Patrol Officer, effective as of September 22, 2012, the date he last received any pay from the City."

         ¶ 5 Thereafter, Marquardt completed an application for health insurance benefits pursuant to the Act and submitted his application to the City. On November 21, 2014, Michael Bartholomew, the City's city manager, authored a letter to Marquardt, denying his request for benefits under the Act. In the letter, Bartholomew explained that although Marquardt's injury was "catastrophic" and occurred while on duty, Marquardt was not eligible for benefits under the Act because his injury did not occur under any of the four circumstances delineated in section 10(b) of the Act. That is, Marquardt's injury did not occur during a fresh pursuit, an emergency, a response to an unlawful act perpetrated by another, or an investigation of a criminal act. Bartholomew explained: "Under Section 6 of the City's PSEBA Policy, the City Manager makes the final determination regarding an applicant's eligibility for PSEBA benefits. Accordingly, I have reviewed your application and the administrative record, and it is my determination that your injury did not occur during a fresh pursuit, or as part of or a response to an emergency, or by an unlawful act perpetrated by another, or during the investigation of a criminal act. Because none of the circumstances prescribed in Subsection 10(b) of the PSEBA apply, your application must be denied."

         ¶ 6 Following the City's denial of his application for benefits under the Act, Marquardt filed declaratory judgment action against the City.[1] He alleged that his catastrophic knee injury was sustained while he was on duty investigating a "criminal act" and that he thus met the requirements for benefits delineated in sections 10(a) and 10(b) of the Act. Accordingly, he sought a declaration of his right to benefits under the Act and an order mandating the City to pay the monthly premiums for coverage under the City's health insurance plan.

         ¶ 7 The City filed an answer in which it admitted that Marquardt sustained his injury while on duty as a police officer for the City and during the performance of an act of duty. The City further admitted that Marquardt's injury was "catastrophic" within the meaning of the Act. The City, however, denied that Marquardt's injury was the result of his investigation of a criminal act. Moreover, the City asserted, as an affirmative defense, that Marquardt's "injury on August 12, 2010 did not occur in one of the following circumstances: (1) response to fresh pursuit, (2) response to what is reasonably believed to be an emergency, (3) the unlawful act by another, or (4) during the investigation of a criminal act. 820 ILCS 320/10(b)." Given that Marquardt's injury did not occur in the context of any of the four specific circumstances delineated in section 10(b) of the Act, the City contended that he was "not entitled to benefits under [the Act]."

         ¶ 8 The parties subsequently engaged in discovery, and Marquardt and Khoshaba were both deposed and provided details about the traffic stop that resulted in Marquardt's injury. Marquardt testified, in pertinent part, that he effectuated a traffic stop on Khoshaba because the truck he was driving had compressed tires and appeared to be slow to accelerate. Based on these observations, he believed that Khoshaba's vehicle was overweight and was being operated in contravention of section 15-111 of the Illinois Vehicle Code (625 ILCS 5/15-111 (West 2010)). He further testified that after ascertaining that Khoshaba was driving a truck that exceeded the permissible wheel and axel gross weight loads permitted under the Illinois Vehicle Code, he climbed the ladder of Khoshaba's truck to inspect the load and determined that the truck was hauling broken concrete. Marquardt explained that he was required to identify and describe the load that Khoshaba was hauling in order to complete the requisite "Des Plaines Police Overweight Report" and to issue Khoshaba a traffic citation. He further testified that there was no way for him to inspect the load that Khoshaba was hauling without climbing up the truck to peer down into the open semitrailer. Marquardt explained that he felt something in his left knee pop when he was traversing up the ladder located near the front of Khoshaba's truck. After maneuvering himself down the ladder, he issued Khoshaba the citation, which resulted in a fine, and completed the "Des Plaines Police Overweight Report."

         ¶ 9 In his deposition, Khoshaba testified that on the date of the traffic stop, he was driving a trailer with an open top. He confirmed that there was no way to open the back of the trailer to show Marquardt the concrete he was hauling. He further confirmed that Marquardt climbed the ladder of his truck in order to identify the type of load that he was hauling. After being issued a traffic citation, Khoshaba testified that he pled guilty to violating the Illinois Vehicle Code and paid a fine.

         ¶ 10 After engaging in the aforementioned discovery, the parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment. In Marquardt's motion, he argued that there was no dispute that he met the prerequisites for benefits set forth in sections 10(a) and (b) of the Act. Specifically, he argued that there was no dispute his knee injury was "catastrophic" within the meaning of section 10(a) of the Act because it resulted in his receiving a line-of-duty disability pension. He likewise argued that there was no dispute that Khoshaba's conduct in driving a truck with an overweight load constituted both an "unlawful" and "criminal" act within the meaning of the Act and that his catastrophic knee injury was a direct result of Khoshaba's unlawful and criminal conduct, thus satisfying the criteria set forth in section 10(b) of the statute.

         ¶ 11 In its cross-motion for summary judgment, the City acknowledged that Marquardt had suffered a catastrophic injury, but argued that his injury had not been sustained during the course of one of the four scenarios contemplated by section 10(b) of the Act. Specifically, the City argued that Khoshaba's conduct in driving an overweight truck did not constitute a "criminal act" because it did not result in prison time or any other serious penalty; rather, it simply resulted in a monetary fine. As a result, the City argued that Marquardt's injury was not sustained during an investigation of a criminal act. The City conceded that Khoshaba's conduct in driving his overweight truck on an Illinois roadway constituted an "unlawful act, " but argued that Marquardt's injury did not occur as a result of Khoshaba's unlawful act because it did not occur "during the [actual] commission of an unlawful act." Instead, the City reasoned that Marquardt's injury was sustained after the truck had already been stopped and during his subsequent inspection of the truck's load. As such, the City argued that there were no genuine issues of material fact that Marquardt was unable to meet the Act's eligibility requirements and requested the circuit court to enter summary judgment in its favor.

         ¶ 12 After reviewing the parties' filings, the circuit court entered judgment in favor of Marquardt and against the City. In a detailed written order, the circuit court agreed with the City that Khoshaba's conduct in driving an overweight vehicle did not constitute a "criminal act" pursuant to the Act. In doing so, the court interpreted the term "criminal act" to mean "an act that constitutes a felony or misdemeanor under Illinois law, i.e., an act for which a sentence of imprisonment may be imposed." It reasoned that Khoshaba's violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code, which resulted in a fine, was not a criminal act within the meaning of the Act. The court, however, agreed with the parties that Khoshaba's violation of the Illinois Vehicle Code constituted an "unlawful act perpetrated by another" as set forth in the Act. The court further found that Marquardt's catastrophic injury was sustained "as the result of" Khoshaba's unlawful act. In doing so, the court observed that the Act did not define the phrase "as the result of" and that the phrase had not been interpreted by any Illinois courts called upon to construe the Act. The circuit court then relied on an Illinois Supreme Court case equating the phrase "as a result of" in the context of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act (815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. (West 1996)) with "proximate cause." Oliveira v. Amoco Oil Co., 201 Ill.2d 134, 140 (2002). Relying on Oliveira, the circuit court construed the phrase "as the result of" as used in the Act to impose a proximate cause requirement on individuals seeking benefits. The court further found that Marquardt's injury was ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.