Quincy Veterans Home Legislation

Senate Bill 2481 will attempt to respect the people who tragically and unnecessarily died at the Quincy Veterans Home while under state care.

A WBEZ report stated:
“In three straight years, legionellosis killed 13 people and sickened at least 61 residents and staff at the downstate veterans’ home, and the state has failed to stop the outbreaks and other cases despite investing millions of taxpayer dollars. The tragic and continuing ordeal at the 210-acre facility in Quincy has heightened scrutiny over how well Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration has managed a deadly public health crisis that started after he took office.”

WBEZ also reported:
Eleven families are suing the state for negligence. But because those deaths occurred in a state facility, Illinois law caps any potential awards at $100,000 — well below the seven-figure outcomes Legionnaires’ cases have yielded in litigation elsewhere.

What my bill does:
Senate Bill 2481 increases the awards cap from $100,000 to $2 million in tort cases before the Court of Claims, and includes a specific effective date, July 1, 2015 that allows victims of the Legionnaires Disease outbreak to file suit. The date coincides with the first outbreak of Legionnaires Disease at the Quincy Veteran’s home so that these victims or their families may be eligible for damages up to $2 million. At the time that the Illinois awards cap was set – tied for lowest in the nation – gasoline was 36 cents per gallon.

Note that the bill does not automatically award the grieving families anything. They would still have to file a lawsuit and win. But if they win their lawsuit, the court would be able to have a larger range to consider for the award. We could then believe that these heroes’ lives, although priceless, are worth more than $100,000 to their families that the present cap allows.

SB2481 is opposed by some state offices under the Governor’s jurisdiction and some business groups. This great bill will help us honor the veterans and others in the care of the State.

The bill passed out of the House with a vote of 79 yays, 33 nays and 2 voting present.