TO: MEMBERS OF THE BAR AND PUBLIC
FROM: MICHAEL J. BRENNAN, CHAIRMAN
SUBJECT: IWCC EMERGENCY PROCESS UPDATE
DATE: APRIL 10, 2020
Based upon the continuing National Emergency and Worldwide Pandemic created by the COVID-19 virus, as well as the lack of technological resources, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission has suspended regular operations during the month of April 2020.
The Commission has requested that all parties waive Oral Arguments so that Commissioners can continue the process and issue Decisions regarding all matters that have previously been briefed by the parties. It appears that there is an unwillingness by a significant number of the parties to waive Oral Arguments. This is their right.
To keep making progress, the Commission has decided to conduct Oral Arguments by telephone. The Commission has limited capacity and budget, but it has the capacity to conduct Oral Arguments in this manner.
The parties will be instructed to call in to a central number, enter an access code, and upon prompting by the Commissioners, deliver their Oral Argument. Thereafter, the Commissioners will render a Decision on each of the cases that have been presented.
Each party's attorney will receive an e-mail advising of the date, time and call in number, with access code, for an Oral Argument. If any party wishes, they will be afforded an opportunity to waive Oral Argument, thereafter. Cases set for Oral Argument will be posted on the IWCC website.
The below reflects the last statement of the Chairman, that was issued on March 27, 2020.
The Commission will continue all cases to their next regularly scheduled 90-day continuance date.
Matters pending on the Commission Review Calls for Oral Argument during the months of March and April will be decided by the members of the Panel, as assigned, if the parties waive Oral Argument. A representative of the Commission will contact the attorneys to determine whether they wish to waive Oral Argument. If Oral Argument is waived, a Decision on Review will be issued by the assigned panel as quickly as possible.
The Commission will continue to conduct previously set Emergency Motion Calls for EMERGENCY motions, ONLY.
An "Emergency Arbitrator" will be available at the locations and on the dates and times set in the below schedule (this will be updated on a weekly basis) for presentation of "valid" emergency motions only. "Valid" emergencies include issues involving the expiration of a statute of limitations, a party can reasonably be expected to suffer an unacceptable hardship, if not heard on an expedited basis. Motions which do not constitute "valid" emergencies will be stricken. Simply put, if the emergency basis of the motion is not a valid emergency that justifies the risk associated with holding an in-person hearing in the midst of a national emergency and global pandemic, the motion will be stricken.
Access to the Emergency Motion Call will be limited to one individual per party. Parties may be required to sign in and out of the facility. The Emergency Arbitrator is empowered to manage the Call in a manner he or she believes is reasonable to ensure the administration of justice and minimize the health and safety concerns connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Refusal to follow the directions of the Emergency Arbitrator will be grounds for removal from the Call and striking of the motion.
The following is a list of the locations for each of the Zones. Emergency Motion Calls will run from 9:00 AM to 12:00 Noon at the below locations on the indicated dates:
Chicago cases will be heard at the IWCC's Chicago Office: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Zone 1 cases will be heard at the IWCC's Collinsville Office: Tuesday and Thursday
Zone 2 cases will be heard at the IWCC's Springfield Office: Monday and Wednesday
Zone 3 cases will be heard at the IWCC's Peoria Office: Wednesday and Friday
Zone 4 cases will be heard at the IWCC's Chicago Office: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Zone 5 cases will be heard at the IWCC's Rockford Office: Tuesday and Thursday
Zone 6 cases will be heard at the IWCC's Chicago Office: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Pro Se settlements may be presented to the Emergency Arbitrator on the second day of the Call, only.
The Chairman advises that, prior to making use of the Emergency Motion Call, attorneys should engage in personal consultation and make reasonable attempts to resolve differences. The Chairman believes Illinois Supreme Court Rule 201(k) and Rule 3.4 of the Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct serve as appropriate guides for counsel during these exceptional times.
As these events continue to evolve, we will work with the Governor's Office and Illinois Department of Public Health to address this rapidly changing situation. Until directed otherwise, all other Commission operations will continue as usual. Parties are advised that any statutory filing deadlines and statutes of limitations will not be affected by these measures, and the Commission will continue to process all usual documents and filings by mail, and in person delivery.
The Chairman's Office will reassess the need to extend or expand these measures on an ongoing basis.
Chicago – Chicago – James R. Thompson Center, 100 W Randolph St. 8-200, Chicago, IL 60601
Zone 1 – Collinsville – 1803 Ramada Blvd STE B201, Collinsville, IL 62234
Zone 2 – Springfield – 4500 S. Sixth St, Springfield, IL 62703
Zone 3 – Peoria – 401 Main St 6th Floor, Peoria, IL 61602
Zone 4 – Chicago – 100 W Randolph St., 8-200. Chicago, IL 60601
Zone 5 – Rockford – 200 S. Wyman, Rockford, IL 61101
Zone 6 – Chicago – James R. Thompson Center, 100 W Randolph St. 8-200, Chicago, IL 60601