On June 30, 20114 the Fifth District Appellate Court issued a Rule 23 Order in Vaughn v. Carbondale Police Pension Fund reversing the trial court’s order affirming the Pension Board’s decision to terminate the plaintiff’s disability pension. Following an annual examination, a doctor issued an opinion that the plaintiff was no longer disabled and could return to work as a police officer. The Pension Board held a meeting and discussed the doctor’s report. The Pension Board voted to accept the doctor’s report and to terminate the plaintiff’s disability pension. The Pension Board then sent the plaintiff a letter indicating that it had terminated the plaintiff’s pension. The appellate court held that the Pension Board did not provide the plaintiff with meaningful notice or a meaningful opportunity to be heard. The appellate court held that posting notice in accordance with the open meetings act did not constitute sufficient notice from a due process perspective. As such, the Pension Board violated the plaintiff’s due process rights when it terminated the plaintiff’s disability pension.
On August 27, 2014 the First District Appellate Court issued a Rule 23 Order in Hoffman v. Des Plaines Firefighters’ Pension Fund reversing the Pension Board’s decision denying the plaintiff a line of duty disability pension. The appellate court held that the Pension Board’s decision that an act of duty or the cumulative effects of acts of duty did not exacerbate the plaintiff’s pre-existing condition was against the manifest weight of the evidence. Notably, the appellate court held that the Pension Board’s written questions submitted to the IME providers were inherently inadequate because they were based on a faulty premise that a line of duty disability pension if only available if injuries on the job were the sole cause of the disability. The appellate court noted that the only intervening causes which would explain the plaintiff’s disability were his aggravating work injuries. Therefore, the Pension Board’s decision was against the manifest weight of the evidence.
Public Act 98-1117, in pertinent part, amended Articles 3 and 4 of the Illinois Pension Code. The amendment allows Pension Board’s to correct overpayments and underpayments due to a “mistake” as defined in the statutes. However, the definition of the term “mistake” may be problematic because it does not include many of the common mistakes that frequently result in overpayments or underpayments.