Illinois Appellate Court Orders Stay of Wrongful Death Claim, Pending Outcome of Arbitration Proceeding in Nursing Home Negligence Case

Any type of accident is traumatizing and painful for the victim and his or her family, but there are few things more devastating than losing a loved one as a result of someone else’s carelessness. At Therman Law Offices, our seasoned Chicago wrongful death lawyers have assisted grieving families with bringing wrongful death claims in a variety of accident types. There are many procedural issues that can arise in a wrongful death claim. A recent wrongful death action demonstrates some of these legal and procedural difficulties.

In the action, a woman signed a residency agreement with a nursing home facility. The agreement included a term stating that any disputes arising from the agreement must be resolved through binding arbitration instead of in a civil action. The woman eventually experienced a number of medical events, including diabetic shock that led to a diabetic coma. The woman was later transferred to a nearby hospital, where she tragically died.

The administrator of the woman’s estate filed a wrongful death action against the facility, alleging that the facility was negligent in its treatment and care of the woman and that her estate was entitled to damages as a result. The plaintiff sought damages pursuant to Illinois’ wrongful death statute in addition to the Rights of Married Persons Act and the Survival Act. In response to the complaint, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss, stating that the residence agreement that the decedent signed required the court to dismiss the complaint and to direct the parties to binding arbitration. The plaintiff argued that the arbitration clause was unenforceable, but should the court enforce it, the wrongful death claim should be allowed to proceed in civil court concurrently with the arbitration proceeding on the other claims. In response, the defendant requested a stay of the wrongful death claim, pending the outcome of the arbitration procedure. The lower court denied the defendant’s request and entered an order allowing the wrongful death claim to proceed alongside the arbitration proceeding.

On review, the defendant argued that the lower court erred in refusing to enter a stay of the wrongful death claim, pending arbitration of the additional claims. The reviewing court first examined the relationship among the claims asserted in the plaintiff’s complaint, finding that all three of the claims turned on similar allegations regarding whether or not the defendant was negligent in its care of the decedent. In concluding that a stay of the wrongful death action was appropriate, pending the outcome of the arbitrable claims, the court noted that allowing them to proceed simultaneously might result in inconsistent determinations and outcomes for the same set of operative facts. Accordingly, the lower court’s order was reversed, and the case was remanded with instructions to enter a stay of the wrongful death claim, pending the outcome of the arbitration proceeding.

If you have lost a loved one in an accident, or you are suffering from injuries that you incurred due to another person’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. At Therman Law Offices, our seasoned team of nursing home abuse lawyers can carefully guide you through each phase of the legal process and ensure that you understand the full nature and extent of your rights along the way. Due to our substantial experience, we understand how the legal system works, and we can make sure that your claim is handled in a professional and proficient fashion. To schedule your free consultation, call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online to get started.

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