The Chicago Daily Law Bulletin reported earlier this year on a pending court decision that is of particular interest to all those concerned with the proper treatment of nursing home residents. The Illinois Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in the important Illinois nursing home lawsuit, Thomas Vincent v. Alden-Park Strathmoor, Inc.-a ruling is expected soon.
The case involves a vital legal question about the types of damages that a victim’s family is allowed to recover after the death of their loved one from poor nursing home care.
Various form of recovery are possible in any lawsuit. The Supreme Court decision in this case will decide if the Nursing Home Care Act allows one particular kind of recovery-punitive damages-to be be recovered by the surviving family members of a deceased resident. There is no question that residents themselves are capable of seeking this form of recovery if they are injured by the facility. Obviously if the resident does not survive the family of the victim files the lawsuit. The issue is whether the family is similarly capable of seeking the recovery that the resident themselves would have been able to receive if they weren’t killed by negligent conduct.
Two of our Illinois nursing home lawyers, Steven M. Levin and Michael F. Bonamarte IV, filed an amicus brief in support of the legal position of the nursing home victim’s family. The argument advanced was one that best balanced the intention of the statute and the policy effects of the legal decision.
Allowing the family to seek recovery of punitive damage is the most logical decision for the court to reach. Otherwise a nursing home is less liable if their victim is killed than if the resident is merely injured. In other words, it would be financially beneficial for the nursing home’s negligence to cause death instead of an injury. It is a perverse outcome that should not be advanced by the law. The rule should instead reflect the principle that protects the well-being of these community members.
Steve Levin explained that “it’s a crucial safety rule and it’s an important principle that our most vulnerable citizens need.”
Over the next few days we will offer more detailed analysis of the issues involved in this important Illinois nursing home lawsuit. We urge all those interested in the care of our vulnerable community members to closely follow the developments of this decision.
All of our Chicago injury lawyers at Levin & Perconti are well versed in the trial strategy of nursing home lawsuits as well as the legal doctrines involved in the law relating to nursing home residents and their families. We are proud to fight both for the victims we represent in court as well as all those who may seek to use the justice system to hold a negligent Illinois nursing home accountable.
It is just as important for a court to reach a proper decision about what the law means as it is for a jury to reach the correct conclusion about what happened in a particular case. Our nursing home attorneys will continue to advocate on both fronts.
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