Illinois Appellate Court Decides Case Concerning PSEBA

Author: Jacob D. Caudill

May 10, 2016

Recently, an Illinois Appellate Court decided a Public Safety Employee Benefits Act case (PSEBA). Specifically, a former police officer brought two counts against the Village seeking:

  • a declaratory judgment that, because he suffered a catastrophic injury, the Village was obligated under the PSEBA to pay the entire premium for his coverage under the Village’s health insurance plan;
  • an order of mandamus compelling the Village to pay the premium.

The catastrophic injury at issue occurred in April 1992, when bones in the officer’s right hand were fractured after being struck by shotgun ammunition. Thereafter, the officer eventually returned to full duty in 1994. In November 2000, the officer was involved in an incident that required him to draw his firearm, but he had difficulty maintaining his grip and nearly dropped the weapon. As a result, the officer was evaluated and was found unfit to return to active duty. Consequently, the Village Police Officer’s Pension Board found that, as a result of 1992 shooting, the Officer was disabled for service in the police department and was entitled to a line-of-duty disability pension.

Thereafter, in December 2000, the Officer requested that the Village pay the premiums for his health insurance pursuant to the PSEBA. The Village’s attorney responded that because the injury occurred before the PSEBA’s 1997 effective date, the officer was not entitled to benefits under the Act. In 2003, the Officer once again requested benefits under the PSEBA, but the Village never responded.

In 2013, the Officer brought a lawsuit against the Village to enforce his rights under the PSEBA. However, the trial court entered summary judgment for the Village on the grounds that the Officer was not entitled to PSEBA benefits because the catastrophic injury occurred before the effective date of the Act.

On appeal, the appellate court affirmed, but upheld the decision on different grounds. Specifically, the court found that because the Officer did not file suit until 2013, he was barred by the five-year statute of limitations under the PSEBA.

While this case was a victory for the Village, it serves as a reminder for both plaintiffs and municipalities to diligently monitor any claims under the PSEBA for the tolling of the statute of limitations.