The Second District Appellate Court recently confirmed that punitive damages are not available in wrongful death cases based on the Illinois Nursing Home Care Act.
The case is Vincent v. Alden-Park Strathmoor, Inc., and it reaffirms one of the bizarre wrinkles in Illinois law – common law punitive damages may be available to a living person, but not to the Estate of a dead person. In other words, nursing homes that commit willful and wanton conduct (that’s essentially “really bad”, for you non-lawyers) might get off easier if that willful and wanton conduct kills their patient.
This isn’t the last word on the subject, but it is important to get the case out there.
(Howard Zimmerle is an attorney in Rock Island Illinois who handles nursing home neglect and abuse cases).