"Damages and the Common Fund Doctrine," a free article from Clifford Law Offices: a Chicago Personal Injury Law firm.

September 28, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
Two recent Illinois Supreme Court cases shed light on punitive damages and the common fund doctrine. The question of whether punitive damages can be recovered in a case arising under the Nursing Home Care Act where the nursing home resident, who was allegedly the victim of willful and wanton conduct, had died was recently at issue in Vincent v. Alden-Park Strathmoor, Inc., 241 Ill.2d 495 (2011). The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court's holding that the right to recover such damages under the Survival Act abated at the death of the resident. They reasoned that punitive damages must be expressly authorized by the statute for them to survive.

While in Wendling v. Southern Hospital Services, Nos. 110119, 110200, 2011 WL 1085186 (Ill. Mar. 24 2011), the court considered whether the common fund doctrine applied to reduce liens asserted pursuant to the Health Care Services Lien Act. Here, the Supreme Court reversed the lower court holding that the common fund doctrine does not apply to liens asserted pursuant to the Health Care Services Lien Act. Their reasoning detailed how the creditor-debtor relationship between a hospital and patient creates an independent right of reimbursement.

Colin H. Dunn, an associate attorney at the nationally renowned Chicago-based personal injury law firm, Clifford Law Offices, P.C., wrote an article about punitive damages and the common fund doctrine in a piece originally published in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin entitled, "Damages and the Common Fund Doctrine." In the article, Mr. Dunn explains why the court was wrong in the Vincent decision because of a basic misreading of the Survival Act. Dunn then goes on to discuss the line of decisions that informed the arguments and reasoning in the Wendling case.

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