On March 31, 2017 the First District Appellate Court issued its Rule 23 Order in Klees v. Village of Mount Prospect, et al. The plaintiff applied for PSEBA benefits. The village denied the plaintiff’s request for PSEBA benefits finding that the plaintiff was not responding to what he reasonably believed to be an emergency at the time he suffered his disabling injury. The trial court and the appellate court affirmed.
The plaintiff suffered 9 separate injuries during this career. There is no dispute that 3 of those injuries occurred while the plaintiff was responding to emergencies. The pension board ultimately awarded the plaintiff a line of duty disability pension and found that the plaintiff’s disabling injury resulted from the cumulative effects of acts of duty.
The plaintiff first argued that the village was collaterally estopped from denying his PSEBA claim. The appellate court held that the plaintiff procedurally defaulted his collateral estoppel argument by not raising it at the administrative level. However, even if the plaintiff had not procedurally defaulted his argument, the appellate court held that the village was not collaterally estopped from denying the plaintiff’s PSEBA claim based on the workers’ compensation findings that certain injuries arose out of the course of the plaintiff’s employment. Collateral estoppel does not apply because the PSEBA and workers’ compensation issues are not identical.
The appellate court then held that the village’s decision denying the plaintiff’s PSEBA claim was not against the manifest weight of the evidence. Although doctors issued reports indicating that the plaintiff’s disabling condition (ie. catastrophic injury) resulted from his performance of acts of duties, none of the reports specifically addressed whether the plaintiff’s disabling injury resulted from the plaintiff’s response to any of the 3 emergency situations. Essentially, the plaintiff failed to prove his claim.