In a recent press release, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Mark D. Prince issued a statement following the state Governor’s amendatory veto of a measure that would have allowed families whose loved ones are injured or die while under the care of the state to file a civil claim against the state. This veto would put a strict leash on the abilities that Illinois victims and their families have to obtain justice when it is due and fight back against unfair and unsafe conditions and care.
Here is the statement that was issued by Mark Prince:
“Senate Bill 2481 is meant to ensure access to adequate and fair compensation for victims and their families when the state is responsible for their injuries or death. Despite the support of strong, bi-partisan majorities in the House and Senate, the Governor’s amendatory veto creates yet another artificial legislative hurdle for our veterans and their families, and put vulnerable children, the elderly, and other future victims that are injured or killed under the state’s care into peril.”
14 residents passed away during the repeated outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease at the Illinois Veterans Home located in Quincy. Legionnaire’s disease is caused by a bacteria called Legionella pneumophila. The disease presents similar to pneumonia and can usually be prevented with clean water and adequate plumbing.
Presently, 12 veterans’ families have brought claims before the Court of Claims seeking damages for their losses. Senate Bill 2481 proposes to bring Illinois into line with other states by raising the damage caps for cases filed at the Court of Claims. The current, draconian cap has been in place since 1971, and is the lowest among all states.
“From the outset of the crisis in Quincy that led to the tragic deaths of our heroes, the Governor has been interested only in covering up, shifting blame, and paying hollow lip service to the victims and their families,” Prince continued. “With his eleventh-hour amendatory veto, he has shown his willingness to continue to put self-preserving political expedience ahead of sound public policy. With one stroke of the pen, he could have followed the will of bi-partisan super-majorities and finally begun the healing process for the victims’ families, and future victims of the state’s negligence. Instead, he has unfortunately and predictably chosen to inflict more harm. The Veto Message proffered by the Governor dishonors the service and ignores the legacy of the veterans who died unnecessarily on his watch; it makes no mention of their tragic deaths, nor the losses suffered by their families.”
Prince believes that the Governor’s veto could potentially place additional veterans at risk, as well as other elderly residents who depend on nursing home and skilled nursing facility staff members to run a clean facility that promotes good health and wellbeing. When victims and their families cannot pursue legal action, facilities may not make the necessary changes to protect its residents.
Mark Prince’s statement was also quoted in this article published by the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.