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Procedural Aspects of Law Prove to be Just as Important as Substantive Elements of Law

by | Dec 1, 2021 | Firm News |

The Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court dismissed an appeal from the Circuit Court for lack of jurisdiction, as the Circuit Court did not fulfill the necessary procedural niceties when reviewing (and reversing) the Commission’s decision(s) regarding an arbitrator’s findings. See Circuit Court’s failure to dispose of Commission’s decision nixes appellate review. Illinois Workers’ Compensation Law Bulletin, Volume 29, Issue 8, June 25, 2021, pages 7-8.[1]  The appellate cases discussed in the article arose from the case of Bowen v. (William A. Niekamp Truck Service Inc.), 29 ILWCLB 87 (Ill. App. Ct., 4th 2021), which involved an appeal from the Circuit Court by a claimant to the Appellate Court, of one workers’ compensation case that had been consolidated with a companion and/or related case that had been appealed by the employer (with both cases having originally been appealed to the Circuit Court from the Commission).  In the first case discussed in Bowen, the Circuit Court did not confirm or set aside the denial by the Commission of a credit for the employer under Section 8(e)17 of the Workers’ Compensation Act (or the “WCA”), after the Circuit Court had deemed the aforesaid denial to be against the manifest weight of the evidence, as well as unfounded from a legal standpoint.[2]  The Circuit Court ruled that the employer deserved to receive a credit against the loss of use by the claimant of his leg, but it did not explicitly set aside the Commission’s decision denying this credit, which meant that there were two opposing, contradictory decisions in effect, one entered by the Commission, and the other one by the Circuit Court.  Thus, the Circuit Court’s decision was non-appealable and nonbinding, having been rendered so by its failure to set aside the Commission’s decision, which meant that the Appellate Court could not consider the case until the Circuit Court actually and officially set aside the Commission’s decision.[3]  As for the other Circuit Court case mentioned in the article, the employer appealed the denial of its Section 19(f) motion by the Commission, but since the Circuit Court ruled that the Commission’s denial was rendered moot by the Circuit Court’s order in which the credit calculation had been corrected, this in turn meant that there was nothing for the Appellate Court to decide regarding the second issue, which necessitated the dismissal of the appeal on this point.[4]  These cases illustrate the concept that procedural aspects or elements of appellate review are just as important to a case’s outcome as substantive considerations of law, and regardless of the reasons that the Circuit Court failed to set aside the Commission’s decision on the first issue, or rendered another matter moot (due either to mistake or inadvertence), the fact remains that the procedures for vesting the appellate court with jurisdiction must be followed.

[1]See Circuit Court’s failure to dispose of Commission’s decision nixes appellate review, Volume 29, Issue 8, June 25, 2021, at pages 7-8.

[2]See Id at 7.

[3]See Id at 7.

[4]See Id at 7-8.

Attorney Matthew Ludwinski