What is case law and why does it matter?

6/21/2013 DEDICATED TO SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE OTHERS Top Ten Cases Every Fire Pension  Trustee Should Know Illinois Alliance of Fire Protection Dis...
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6/21/2013

DEDICATED TO SERVING THOSE WHO SERVE OTHERS

Top Ten Cases Every Fire Pension  Trustee Should Know Illinois Alliance of Fire Protection Districts – 2013 Conference

David Zafiratos, Attorney at Law

Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo, Ltd. 9990 West 190th Street, Ste. A Mokena, IL 60448 (708) 478-4600 [email protected]

Meganne Trela, Attorney at Law

Ottosen Britz Kelly Cooper Gilbert & DiNolfo, Ltd. 1804 N. Naper Blvd., Ste. 350 Naperville, IL 60563 (630) 682-0085 [email protected]

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What is “case law” and  why does it matter?

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Statutory law v. case law • Illinois statutes provide legal framework for authority and  responsibility of the Board of Trustees of Illinois firefighter  pension funds in conducting the business of the fund (Illinois  Pension Code) • Illinois case law issues by the courts interprets the statutes  where the decisions of the Board of Trustees are disputed • “Published” decisions of the appellate courts provide precedent  and are binding on others beyond the original parties to the  dispute

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The “Top Ten” Cases

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Case No. 1 ‐‐ Evanston Bd. Of Trustees of Police Pension Fund of City of Evanston v. City of Evanston, 281 Ill. App. 3d 1047 (Ill. App. 1st Dist. 1996) •

Key principle: The city council did not have to accept the amount that the police pension board suggested for the tax levy because nowhere in the statute was the city bound by the Board’s suggestion. However, if the city council determined that an alternative amount was appropriate, the city council’s calculation had to follow Illinois law.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-118 (financing)



Related Cases: Bd. Of Trustees of Police Pension Fund of Rockford v. City of Rockford, 96 Ill.App.3d 102, (Ill. App. 2d Dist. 1981); McNamee v. State, 173 Ill. 2d 433 (1996).

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Case No. 2 ‐‐ Williams Williams v. Board of Trustees of the Morton Grove Firefighters’ Pension Fund, 398 Ill.App.3d 680 (1st Dist. 2010)

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Key principle: Trustees must maintain their impartiality during pension hearings and because the lines of impartiality were blurred in this case, the Board was required to conduct a new hearing with regard to the receipt of disability benefits.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-121 (board created)



Related Cases:

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Case No. 3 ‐‐ Fields Fields v. Schaumburg Firefighter’s Pension Fund, 383 Ill.App.3d 209 (1st Dist. 2008). •

Key Principle: When a village employee miscalculated an applicant’s pension that caused a substantial increase in a firefighter’s pension benefit, the Board could rescind the erroneous increase because is never took an action to officially award the increase.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-139 (administrative reviews)



Related Cases: Kosakowski v. Calumet City Police Pension Fund, 389 Ill.App.3d 381 (1st Dist. 2009); Sola v. Roselle Police Pension Board, 342 Ill.App.3d 227 (2d Dist. 2003); Rossler v. Morton Grove Police Pension Fund, 178 Ill.App.3d 769 (1st Dist. 1989).

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Case No. 4 ‐‐ Peterson Peterson v. Board of Trustees of the Firemen’s Pension Fund of the City of Des Plaines, 54 Ill. 2d 260 (1973)

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Key principle: Disability pensions are granted to firefighters who are disabled “for services in the fire department,” not just disabled from their current position in the department. Availability of bona fide light duty position may be reason for denying disability pension benefits.



Statutes interpreted: Sections 4-106 (definition of “firefighter”) and 4-110 (line-of-duty disability)



Related Cases: Terrano v. Retirement Board of Policemen’s Annuity & Benefit Fund of Chicago, 315 Ill.App.3d 270 (1st Dist. 2000)

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Case No. 5 ‐‐ Mulack Mulack v. Hickory Hills Police Pension Board, 252 Ill.App.3d 1063 (1st Dist. 1993) •

Key principle: In order to deny a disability pension based on a refusal to obtain medical treatment, a pension board is required to show that an applicant’s refusal to obtain medical treatment was an unreasonable refusal and but for the refusal the employee would have, more likely than not, overcome the disability.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-110 (line-of-duty disability), 4-11 (non-duty disability) and 4-112 (determination of disability)



Related Cases: Luchesi v. Retirement Board of the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, 333 Ill.App.3d 543 (1st Dist. 2002).

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Case No. 6 ‐‐ Evert Evert v. Board of Trustees of the Firefighters’ Pension Fund of the City of Lake Forrest, 180 Ill.App.3d 656 (2nd Dist. 1989)

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Key principle: Pre-existing conditions (such as degenerative conditions), temporarily aggravated by on-duty injuries are not compensable as duty-related disabilities, where permanent disability is caused by the pre-existing condition.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-110 (line-of-duty disability) and 4-11 (non-duty disability)



Related Cases: Demski v. Mundelein Police Pension Board, 358 Ill.App.3d 499, (2nd Dist. 2005); Scalise v. Board of Trustees of the Westchester Firemen’s Pension Fund, 264 Ill.App.3d 1029 (1st Dist. 1993).

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Case No. 7 ‐‐ Virden Virden v. Board of Trustees of Firefighters Pension Fund of City of Pekin, 304 Ill.App.3d 330 (3rd Dist. 1999) •

Key principle: A firefighter does not have to prove the disability resulted solely from duties as a firefighter. The duty-related accident does not need to be the sole cause or the primary cause of the disability. The firefighter only needs to prove that the duty-related accident is a causative factor contributing to his disability.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-110 (line-of-duty disability) and 6110 (Chicago’s provision for “act of duty”)



Related Cases: Luchesi v. Retirement Board of the Firemen’s Annuity and Benefit Fund of Chicago, 333 Ill.App.3d 543 (1st Dist. 2002).

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Case No. 8 ‐‐ Hammond Hammond v. The Firefighters Pension Fund of the City of Naperville, 369 Ill.App.3d 294 (2nd Dist. 2006)

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Key principle: The Second District Court upheld the Board’s decision to award a firefighter a non-duty pension – and deny a line-of-duty disability pension – due to his psychological condition finding that “stress or depression resulting from general employment functions inherent in the occupation and common to all firefighters [is] not the equivalent of the specific acts of duty contemplated by the statute.”



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-112 (determination of disability)



Related Cases:

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Case No. 9 ‐‐ Peacock Peacock v. Board of Trustees of the Police Pension Fund, 395 Ill.App.3d 644 (1st Dist. 2009) •

Key principle: A pension board improperly terminated a disability pension when it failed to hold a hearing prior to terminating the pension and, as a result, the pension board was responsible for back payment of pension benefits.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-112 (determination of disability)



Related Cases: Trettenero v. Police Pension Fund of the City of Aurora 333 Ill.App.3d 792 (2d Dist. 2002).

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Case No. 10 ‐‐ Lindemulder Lindemulder v. Board of Trustees of the Naperville Firefighters’ Pension Fund and the City of Naperville, 408 Ill.App.3d 494 (2nd Dist. 2011)

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Key principle: Firefighters seeking occupational disability pensions must prove their disability was caused by or resulted from the conditions they were exposed to in their service as a firefighter.



Statutes interpreted: Section 4-110.1 (occupational disease disability pension)



Related Cases:

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