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Iannoni v. City of Chicago

Court of Appeals of Illinois, First District, First Division

September 30, 2019

ALPHONSE IANNONI, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
THE CITY OF CHICAGO, Defendant-Appellant.

          Appeal from the Circuit Court Of Cook County. No. 18 L 50369 The Honorable James M. McGing, Judge Presiding.

          Attorneys for Appellant: Jeffrey N. Powell, of Hennessy & Roach, P.C., of Chicago, for appellant.

          Attorneys for Appellee: John W. Powers, of Cullen, Haskins, Nicholson & Menchetti, P.C., of Chicago, for appellee.

          JUSTICE WALKER delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion. Presiding Justice Griffin and Justice Pierce concurred in the judgment and opinion.

          OPINION

          WALKER JUSTICE

         ¶ 1 The circuit court held that the entire amount of an arbitrator's award, stated as a weekly amount times a number of weeks, came due when the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission (Commission) adopted the arbitrator's award. The employer, the City of Chicago (City), paid its injured employee only the weekly amount times the number of weeks that had elapsed by the time of payment. The injured employee filed a section 19(g) petition under the Workers' Compensation Act (Act) (820 ILCS 305/19(g) (West 2016)) in the circuit court, alleging that all permanent partial disability benefits awarded to employees should be paid in a lump sum, whether they had accrued or not. The trial court entered a judgment awarding the employee the unpaid part of the award plus interest and attorney fees. The City argues on appeal that it paid all amounts due as they accrued, and it intended to pay the remainder of the award monthly, as it accrued. We hold that the City correctly paid its injured employee the amounts awarded as those amounts accrued over time. We reverse the circuit court's judgment.

         ¶ 2 I. BACKGROUND

         ¶ 3 On March 31, 2014, Alphonse Iannoni suffered an injury in the course of his employment with the City. He filed a claim for workers' compensation. The City began paying workers' compensation benefits to Iannoni as the parties proceeded to arbitration.

         ¶ 4 The arbitrator entered a final decision, dated March 21, 2018, awarding Iannoni both temporary total disability benefits and permanent partial disability benefits. The arbitrator set temporary total disability benefits at $902.67 per week for 1493/7 weeks, for a total of $134,884.68. The City had already paid $128,694.95, so it owed only $6189.73 for temporary total disability. The arbitrator added, "Petitioner is permanently partially disabled to the extent of 35% loss of use of the person as a whole under Section 8(d)2 of the Act [(820 ILCS 305/8(d)(2) (West 2016))], equivalent to 175 weeks of benefits." The arbitrator awarded "$721.66 per week." Neither party challenged the award. The Commission adopted the arbitrator's award as its final order.

         ¶ 5 On May 9, 2018, the City sent Iannoni a check for $62,890.49, covering the remaining temporary total disability benefits and more than 70 weeks of permanent partial disability benefits. The City sent Iannoni a second check in June 2018 for $3135.78, covering a little more than four times the weekly permanent partial disability benefits the arbitrator awarded.

         ¶ 6 On June 27, 2018, Iannoni filed a complaint against the City, seeking immediate payment of the remainder of the permanent partial disability award, plus interest and attorney fees. The City answered that it had already paid all of the amounts that had accrued as of the date of the complaint. The City chose to pay Iannoni monthly amounts to match the mandatory rate of $721.66 per week, until it paid the entire amount the arbitrator awarded. The City added, "the benefits are processed for the entire upcoming month, even though they have not yet accrued as of the date they are issued. Plaintiff is actually receiving the benefits early." Iannoni replied, "The award can be calculated to the precise penny and Defendant is obligated to pay regardless of whether the Plaintiff is alive or dead. *** [T]he entire award was due and payable, i.e. accrued, the moment the Commission's decision became final."

         ¶ 7 In an order dated October 30, 2018, the circuit court said:

"A permanent disability is immutable. It will not go away. The worker who suffers from a permanent disability is therefore entitled to a lump sum benefit in exchange for the loss of the complete use of their person. This is in sharp contrast to a temporary disability. It makes sense that temporary disability benefits would accrue on an installment basis during the pendency of the disability-the purpose of temporary disability benefits is to compensate the worker during their period of incapacity."

         ¶ 8 The circuit court entered a judgment in favor of Iannoni for the amount of unpaid benefits plus attorney fees of $34,247.50. The court requested supplemental briefs on interest. The ...


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