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Author: John Fassola

Pending Legislation on “Rebuttable Presumption” for COVID-19 Cases

As you are aware, in April, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission proposed a Rule change to adopt a “rebuttable presumption” for COVID-19 exposure in the State of Illinois.  The Rule change was successfully challenged in Court, and subsequently withdrawn by the Commission.  At that time, it was anticipated that legislative changes would instead be pursued to create a presumption of compensability for exposure to COVID-19.   The Illinois General Assembly was called into Emergency Session beginning on Wednesday, May 19.  As expected, a “rebuttable presumption” bill, which proposes to codify changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Diseases Act, has now...

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Revised IWCC Procedures for June

The Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has announced its revised procedures for hearings to take place during the month of June. A copy of the Commission’s memorandum of “Special Circumstance” procedures, a subsequent clarification memo, and the calendar of hearing dates can be found on the Commission's web-site at www2.illinois.gov/sites/iwcc. In summary, the Commission will continue to hold the June status calls in each venue telephonically. If one (or both) of the parties has requested a hearing, the cases will be set on a telephonic pretrial date, per the schedule of available dates in each venue. Depending on the size of the...

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IWCC Withdraws COVID-19 Rebuttable Presumption Rule

Following an emergency meeting this morning, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has decided to withdraw its recently adopted Rule which created a rebuttable presumption for employees who are exposed to COVID-19. The Rule had created a great deal of concern among Illinois employers, who faced the difficult burden of proving that an employee’s positive COVID diagnosis was not related to a workplace exposure. The Illinois Manufacturers Association and Retail Merchants Association spearheaded a legal challenge to the Rule, and last week successfully obtained a temporary restraining order prohibiting enforcement of the Rule, pending further hearings. The Commission has opted to...

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Update Regarding IWCC Procedures and COVID-19

As expected, there was a legal challenge to the emergency amendment by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission expanding the evidentiary rule regarding COVID-19 cases being rebuttably presumed to be related to an essential employee’s employment. The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association filed for a temporary restraining order in Sangamon County, arguing that the Commission’s action granted new rights to employees and infringed upon the protectable interests of employers which is a violation of the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act as the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission has not been given the authority to create new substantive rights. This was...

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Brooks v. Kankakee School District #111

  Congratulations to IPRF and Jeff Redick for successfully defending a denial of benefits by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission before the Circuit Court of Kankakee County in the matter of Brooks v. Kankakee School District #111.  The case involved a Cafeteria Supervisor that alleged to have sustained injuries to her wrist, elbow, shoulder, ankle, knee and hip from a fall in a snowy parking lot when leaving work.  The Respondent successfully argued that the fall did not arise out of and in the course of her employment with the Respondent. The Court agreed that the claimant’s fall in a parking...

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Hedman v. City of Elmhurst

Congratulations to Dan Artman and the City of Elmhurst for their successful defense of a rebuttable presumption cardiac claim.  This case involved a firefighter diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Due to the risk of sudden death should Petitioner be exposed to excessive physical stress, it was recommended by his treating physician that he no longer work as a firefighter. Petitioner claimed that his condition was caused by his work as a firefighter and argued that the rebuttable presumption applied to his claim. The City obtained an opinion from Dr. Richard Carroll that Petitioner’s condition is not causally related to his work for...

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Win Before the Federal Court of Appeals

Congratulations to Jared Vasiliauskas for his win before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in a Title XII discrimination case. Jared was able to successfully argue that a Summary Judgment from the District Court was inappropriately granted. The Seventh Circuit reversed the District Court order and remanded the case for a hearing on the merits....

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McElroy v. Village of Hinsdale

Congratulations to the IRMA and John Fassola for their successful defense of a claim before Arbitrator Christine Ory in McElroy v. Village of Hinsdale. The claimant was a police officer who dislocated his shoulder while on duty. The claim was disputed based on a contention that the activity the claimant was performing on the date of the occurrence (reaching up to press a garage door opener) did not represent an increased risk incidental to the employment. The defense also noted that the claimant had a prior history of recurrent shoulder dislocations, one as recently as three months prior due to...

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Navigating COVID-19: Legal Implications and Guidance

Employers are dealing with a wide variety of issues that have arisen in recent weeks due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic with associated Executive Orders and legislation issued at local, State and Federal levels. This includes the question of whether exposed employees who present claims for benefits are covered under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and Occupational Diseases Act. Due to the rapid onset of this crisis, there simply has not been time for cases involving these issues to be presented to the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission for hearing. Nonetheless, the Commission has begun to set out some direction on...

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