Last November, Partner Jack Shanahan argued before the Illinois Supreme Court in a case in which the appellate court ruled that the Illinois Insurance Guaranty Fund is obligated to make payments on behalf of a self-insured employer whose excess insurer became insolvent. You can read our original post and see video of the argument before the court here.
In the case, as summarized and reported by our friends at the Illinois State Bar Association, the Illinois Supreme Court found no distinction between primary and excess workers’ compensation policies in applying the workers’ compensation exception to the statutory cap of the Illinois Guaranty Fund. The court ruled in favor of an employer obligated to pay lifetime benefits to a seriously injured employee, where the employer’s excess insurer became insolvent.
The employer, Wells Manufacturing, the predecessor of Skokie Castings, had sued the Fund when it refused to pay the claim after reaching the $300,000 statutory cap applicable to the Fund under the statute, 215 ILCS 5/537.2 (West 2010). Wells contended that the statutory exemption from the cap “for any workers compensation claims” required the Fund to shoulder the financial burden above the statutory limit. The circuit court, appellate court, and supreme court agreed with Wells. Observing the purpose of the fund – to protect policy holders of insolvent insurers and injured third parties making claims under policies of insurers who become insolvent – the supreme court characterized the Fund as a “substitute for the defunct insurer,” in this instance, Home Insurance. The supreme court determined that the claim in question qualified as a covered workers’ compensation claim, and thus fell within the exception to the statutory cap, based on Home’s agreement to help Wells pay workers’ compensation awards granted by the Industrial Commission pursuant to the Workers’ Compensation Act. In the court’s view, characterizing this claim differently based on the excess carrier’s obligation to reimburse the employer for payments made to an injured employee rather than to pay the employee directly would place mechanics over substance.
The court’s opinion can be found here.
It is with deep sadness that we report that IWCC Arbitrator and La Salle County Historical Society President Douglas Holland, of Oglesby, passed away unexpectedly at his home in the early morning hours Thursday at the age of 56. Arb. Holland had served as an arbitrator with the Commission since 1989, and prior to that served for three years as a Commissioner.
Arrangements for Arb. Holland are pending at the Mueller Funeral Home in Ottawa with visitation from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Mass will be at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Mary’s Church in Utica.
The official list of Arbitrator assignments has been released by the IWCC. Effective January 1, 2014, arbitrators will have the following assignments:
Zone 1: Collinsville, Herrin, Mt Vernon:
Lee, Lindsay, Zanotti
Zone 2: Springfield, Quincy, Urbana:
Dearing, Gallagher, Pulia
Zone 3: Bloomington, Peoria, Rock Island:
Erbacci, Holland, McCarthy
Zone 4: Geneva, New Lenox, Ottawa:
Granada, Mathis, O’Malley
Zone 5: Rockford, Waukegan, Woodstock:
Andros, Falcioni, Fratianni
Zone 6: Chicago, Wheaton:
Cronin, Doherty, Luskin
Zone 7: Chicago:
Black, Carlson, Dollison, Flores, Huebsch, Kane, Kelmanson, Mason, Simpson, Steffen, Thompson-Smith, Williams
Although we are waiting for the official word from the IWCC, it appears as though some of the Arbitrator reassignments will be as detailed below. We will report updated information as it becomes available.
WHEATON & CHICAGO:
Lauren Waninski recorded a win in a disputed case involving a claimant who alleged a rotator cuff tear after an altercation at work. The claimant had undergone a diagnostic study several days prior to his alleged date of injury which showed proof of a rotator cuff tear. In a trial that included physician depositions and testimony from the claimant, the Arbitrator found that the claimant failed to meet his burden of proof that an accident arose out of and in the course of his employment with the employer with respect to the alleged right shoulder injury. In defeating the claimed injury to the right shoulder, Lauren saved the employer potential trial exposure up to $47,000.00. No Petition for Review has been filed yet in this case.
On August 15 several I&F attorneys participated in the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois golf outing at Willow Crest Golf Club in Oak Brook. The mission of the Women’s Bar Association of Illinois is to promote, foster, advance and protect the interests and welfare of women lawyers; to encourage a spirit of friendship and mutual helpfulness among its members; to aid in the enactment of legislation for the common good and the administration of justice; and, to promote and protect the interests and the rights of women. Attorneys Lauren Waninski and Kristin Thomas are active members of the group.
News from the IWCC – - Late last week Governor Pat Quinn announced the appointment of three new arbitrators to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission . These three arbitrators will join those who are currently serving.
In connection with these appointments, Governor Quinn stated, “These individuals have years of professional experience that will benefit the Illinois’ workers’ compensation program. I am pleased to appoint these arbitrators and a commissioner who will work for the people of Illinois to resolve workers’ compensation cases in a manner which treats injured workers with respect and ensures that employers in Illinois receive a fair and efficient resolution to claims.”
Governor Quinn appointed the following new Arbitrators:
- Molly Dearing, J.D., Southern Illinois University School of Law; B.A., University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign; Associate of Arts, Southeastern Illinois College
- Jeffrey Huebsch, J.D., Illinois Institute of Technology/Chicago-Kent Law School; B.A., North Central College
- Ketki Steffen, J.D., John Marshall Law School; B.A., University of Illinois – Urbana/Champaign
The Governor has also appointed the following Commissioner:
- Michael Brennan, J.D., DePaul University College of Law; B.A., DePaul University
The Governor re-appointed the following Arbitrators:
- William Gallagher, J.D., Southern Illinois University-Carbondale; B.A., Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
- Carolyn Doherty, J.D., John Marshall Law School; B.A., Marquette University
- Joshua Luskin, J.D., University of Michigan; B.A., Macalester College
- Robert Williams J.D., Loyola Law School of Chicago; M.B.A. University of Illinois at Chicago; B.S., Le Moyne-Owen College
- Barbara Flores, J.D., Chicago-Kent College of Law; B.S., University of Illinois
- Deborah Simpson, J.D., John Marshall Law School; B.A., DePaul University
- Brian Cronin, M.B.A., University of Chicago; B.B.A., University of Notre Dame
- Kurt Carlson, J.D., John Marshall Law School; B.A., University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Gregory Dollison, Paralegal Certificate, Roosevelt University; B.S., Illinois Institute of Technology
- Edward Lee, J.D., John Marshall Law School; B.A., Tulane University
- Molly Mason, J.D., Loyola University Law School; B.A., Harvard University
- Douglas McCarthy, J.D., Southern Illinois University Law School; M.A., Sangamon State; B.S., Illinois State University.