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Family claims $100,000 from Illinois in wrongful death case

In recent Illinois healthcare news, the family of a man who died due to Legionnaires’ disease at an Illinois Veterans Home in Quincy last October is suing the state for wrongful death, claiming $100,000.

Valdemar Dehn was the 13th person to die from Legionnaires’ disease at the facility, and his family believe had he been tested early, as directed by doctors, his life could have been saved.

In the court papers, his son Matthew is demanding $100,000 – the ceiling for what Illinois pays in such cases – for pain, suffering, and grief, citing negligent maintenance of the home’s water system and related infrastructure that led to his father’s death.

The documents also show that a doctor ordered a test for Legionnaires on Dehn on October 8, 2017, but it was never completed. Three days later, another physician questioned why the test had not be done and reordered the test.

Dehn tested positive for Legionnaires’ disease and died eight hours later.

Families of 12 other residents at the Quincy VA home have also sued the state and like Dehn’s family, they argue that there was a delay in diagnosing the patients, which likely led to the fatalities. State officials have been accused of mishandling the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and the director of Veterans’ Affairs, Erica Jeffries, has resigned as a result.

Before her resignation, Jeffries had claimed that Dehn’s death was not connected to the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, but a coroner’s report showed that the 88-year-old Korean War veteran had died due to the infection.

Following the first outbreak in 2015, the state carried out renovations on plumbing installations, but the US Centers for Disease Control warned that this may not be enough to prevent future outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.  

This is a controversy that Governor Bruce Rauner would have preferred to avoid ahead of this year’s gubernatorial elections. His Democratic opponent J.B. Pritzker has already accused Rauner of “fatal mismanagement” in the Legionnaires’ outbreak.

There were three outbreaks at the Quincy veterans’ home between 2015 and 2017.

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