SPRINGFIELD—Following the Governor’s amendatory veto of a measure that would have allowed access to justice for all families whose loved ones are injured or die while under the care of the state, Illinois Trial Lawyers Association President Mark D. Prince issued the following statement:
“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.”
The lives lost during the repeated outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease at the Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy highlighted the need for a change in Illinois law. Since July 2015, the Veteran’s home in Quincy has experienced four outbreaks of Legionnaire’s disease. Sixty-one residents and staff at the home have been afflicted, and sadly, 14 residents have died. 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. The Governor has failed our veterans and their families yet again. We hope that the legislature will override this heartless veto and give our heroes’ families the justice that they are due, and the justice that our veterans fight to preserve.”