Court Denies Claim for TTD Filed Five Years After Final Decision
Court Denies Claim for TTD Pursuant to a Section 8(a) Petition Filed Five Years After a Final Commission Decision.
Tony L. Curtis v. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission and Village of Lansing, 2013 Ill. App. (1st) 120976WC (Filed March 11, 2013).
Petitioner is employed by respondent as a police officer/paramedic. He suffered an injury on September 1, 2000 when he tripped and fell and injured his right hand. He filed a claim with the Commission and also a 19(b) petition. After a hearing, he was awarded 55 weeks of TTD and $14,000.00 in medical bills. The employer disputed the claim and filed a petition for review with the Commission, but the decision was affirmed.
Subsequently, a hearing was held as to PPD. A decision was rendered in favor of petitioner on January 25, 2005 awarding him 40% loss of use of the hand and an additional $8,500.00 in medical bills. No appeals were filed and the arbitration decision became final.
Almost five years later, petitioner had another surgery on his right wrist. The surgery took place on October 5, 2009. The employer voluntarily paid the medical bills. However, the employer refused to pay TTD while petitioner was off work after surgery.
Petitioner then filed a Section 8(a) petition with the Commission alleging entitlement to TTD from October 5, 2009 to February 8, 2010. This petition was filed with the Commission on January 21, 2010, almost five years after the last decision of the Commission.
The employer disputed petitioner’s entitlement to TTD claiming that the 30 month period for filing a Section 19(h) petition had lapsed. Petitioner claimed that he was entitled to TTD benefits under Section 8(a) and that Section 19(h) did not even apply to a TTD claim.
The Commission denied the case and the Circuit Court affirmed. Petitioner appealed to the Appellate Court and the Appellate Court affirmed the denial of TTD benefits. The court held that petitioner was barred from seeking TTD benefits because he did not file a 19(h) petition within 30 months from the last decision of the Commission. The court ruled that Section 8(a) cannot be used as a vehicle to avoid the time limitations set forth in Section 19(h).
The court held “The time limit set forth in Section 19(h) is jurisdictional. The limitations period begins to run from the date of the Commission’s decision. However, when no review of the arbitrator’s decision is sought, the decision of the arbitrator becomes the decision of the Commission for purposes of calculating the limitations period in Section 19(h).”
Comment: This is an excellent decision from the court. I am not surprised at all by the claim. The court itself creates unwarranted claims like this by improperly interpreting the plain language of the statute. Ever since the Supreme Court’s decision in McMahan wherein they decided that the term “compensation” also included medical bills for the purposes of awarded penalties, claimants have tried to use other sections of the statute to generate awards for which they were not intended. At least this decision firmly establishes that Section 8(a) petitions cannot be used for untimely claims for TTD. Claims for TTD post-award must be filed within the 30 months set forth in Section 19(h) of the Act.