In addressing reporters Thursday, Rauner also spoke out against some pieces of legislation that lawmakers passed over Rauner’s vetoes. In particular, he singled out a bill that would raise the caps on legal payouts for anyone who sues the state.
“Now, the incentive for the trial bar, the plaintiffs bar, to go look for problems, challenge, try to find problems, sue — the risk-reward for them to spend some time proactively suing now that the balance is on the side of, ‘Yeah, go ahead and sue.’”
The push to raise the limit from $100,000 to $2 million came after 11 families sued the state for neglect in the deaths of their loved ones at the Quincy veterans’ home who died during a 2015 Legionnaires’ outbreak. A twelfth lawsuit — filed earlier this year — stemmed from a 2017 Legionnaires’ death at the same home.
“This is going to be a massive invitation for lawsuits,” Rauner said. “Our taxpayers could be on the hook for many millions, hundreds of millions of dollars.” […]
Rauner said the bill was “falsely sold as a Quincy veterans bill” even though it will apply to all lawsuits filed in the Court of Claims.
“I view this as a major sop, a major giveaway to the trial lawyers who are major funders of many legislators’ campaigns,” he said.
He also said the General Assembly should’ve just passed stand-alone legislation that specifically applied to the Quincy veterans home.
*** UPDATE *** Tim McLean at the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association…
Let’s re-visit the outgoing governor’s record on the handling of the Legionnaire’s crises that occurred at the Quincy Veteran’s Home, which caused 14 unnecessary deaths and sickened 70 other residents and staff:
Delay—his administration delayed notification of the outbreak, which denied families access to potential life-saving information about the well-being of their loved ones, and possibly contributed to the illness and death toll.
Deny—The governor repeatedly claimed that “our administration did everything right,” despite documented evidence from industry experts and his own staff that the claim is untrue.
Deflect—The governor tried to blame this tragedy on the weather, on a local river, and on a former director that is now a U.S. Senator from the opposing party.
Veto—instead of finally seizing the opportunity to begin the healing process for the victims’ families, Rauner AV’d this bill, which was a product of bi-partisan agreement with all stakeholders.
The Governor has clearly learned nothing over the four years of his massively failed tenure, and his sour grapes press conference yesterday only further solidifies his dissonance from voters, and the bi-partisan supermajorities that overrode his reckless veto. It was clear from the outset to all parties that this legislation was prompted by the tragedies in Quincy, but would be applicable to claims brought by other victims as well; that issue was fully vetted in negotiations, and was made abundantly clear in floor debate. If the governor felt so strongly that it should have applied only to the Quincy tragedy, why did his AV not reflect that position?
The truth is that Illinois was an outlier (tied for the lowest among all states) for damage caps at the Court of Claims, and the families of our heroes in Quincy would have been denied access to justice as a result of that antiquated law–as would future victims of the state’s negligence. This law rectifies that issue, and gives Illinoisans a reasonable opportunity to pursue justice when they are harmed. Remember, seventeen (over 1/3) of states have no cap at all.
This month, the voters of Illinois roundly rejected Governor Rauner’s slash-and-burn, political hackery approach to governing with a 15-point defeat. Instead of holding rambling press conferences and vilifying his perceived political enemies (which proved to be a failed approach for 4 years), the governor should embark on an apology tour with victims’ families.