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On Friday, May 1, the town of Cicero sued a skilled nursing facility located within Cicero city limits, alleging that it was not following federal, state, and local directives related to COVID-19, including failing to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE), not enforcing social distancing policies, not providing hand-washing stations, and additional infection control issues. According to the lawsuit, the facility had 10 COVID-19 related deaths and 200 additional cases. Cicero alleged that the facility’s non-compliance constitutes a public nuisance. The lawsuit sought a temporary restraining order and injunctive relief, including (1) transferring all residents to alternative care facilities run by the state, or (2) to enjoin the facility to follow the healthcare guidelines promulgated by federal, state, and local health authorities.

In the Court’s initial ruling, Judge Alison Conlon found that Cicero met its burden of showing a likelihood of success on the public nuisance claim, granted the temporary restraining order, and ordered the following: (1) that the Illinois Department of Public Health must inspect the facility within 48 hours of the order and submit a report based on that inspection, (2) that the facility provide sufficient PPE to residents and staff; (3) that the facility enforces social distancing; (4) that the facility posts signs regarding infection control measures; (5) that the facility provides sufficient hand-washing stations; and (6) that the facility monitors people entering and exiting the site. Judge Conlon denied the request to relocate residents, finding that it would be inconsistent with current health guidelines to do so.

If you have questions about this development, please contact Sammi L. Renken, Jack Marshall or the Johnson & Bell attorney with whom you regularly work.