On April 23, 2020, the Circuit Court of Sangamon County granted a motion by leading Illinois business groups to block an action by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) that sought to radically rewrite the rules of evidence in workers’ compensation cases brought by “front-line” employees in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following the IWCC’s adoption of an emergency rule creating the rebuttable presumption a COVID-19 diagnosis arises out of and in the course of “front-line” employment, the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and Illinois Retail Merchants’ Association filed a motion for temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction in the Circuit Court of Sangamon County. The motion challenged the validity of how the rule was implemented, but not the substance of the rule itself.
The motion sought to block the emergency evidentiary rule on the grounds the Commission acted outside the scope of its rulemaking authority under the Illinois Administrative Procedures Act and Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. On April 23, 2020, the circuit court agreed and granted a preliminary injunction which temporarily prohibits the commission from applying the presumption in any pending COVID-19 cases. For the time being, claimants will still have the burden of proving their COVID-19 diagnosis arose out of and in the course of their employment by a preponderance of the evidence.
The IWCC has until April 30 to file its response with a subsequent hearing scheduled for May 4, at which time the court will re-evaluate the temporary restraining order.
We will continue to monitor this developing litigation. In the interim, we continue to encourage employers to swiftly and thoroughly investigate any COVID-19 claim. Our Illinois Workers’ Compensation team is available to discuss proactive strategies to effectively manage these claims. For more information, contact: