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Nursing Home States Cause of Action in Quantum Meruit for services rendered to patient despite there being no written contract as required by the Nursing Home Care Act, 210 ILCS 45/1-101 et seq. (West 2008)

Nursing Home sued husband and his wife for failure to pay for over $134,000 for husband’s care and treatment.  Neither the husband nor his wife signed the contract outlining the services to be provided and the costs.  The Nursing Home sued Husband for breach of contract and sued the wife under the Family Expense Act.   The Nursing Home also sued the Husband based on quantum meruit.  Quantum meruit is an equitable claim founded on the implied promise of the recipient to pay for valuable services rendered, or otherwise the recipient would be unjustly enriched.

The Appellate Court approved the lower court’s dismissal of the breach of contract claim finding that the Nursing Home Act (the Act) requires that a written contact between the facility and the patient be “executed” which was not the case here.    The appellate court also concurred with the lower court’s dismissal of the family expense complaint finding that the action against the Wife was dependent on her husband’s underlying liability under the written contract and since the unsigned contract was unenforceable under the Act, no action under the Family Expense Act could proceed.

The Appellate Court did allow the complaint in quantum meruit to go forward.  Courts have refused to allow recovery under quantum meruit if the underlying contract violated public policy, but an action in quantum meruit can proceed in a situation where the formation or execution alone makes the underlying contract unenforceable.  The court noted that there was no assertion that the care provided to the husband was unsatisfactory. Consequently, the case is being returned to the lower court to allow the Nursing Home to demonstrate the services it provided and the reasonable amount it seeks to recover.   The Carlton at the Lake, Inc., Plaintiff-Appellant, v. Robert Barber, Individual, Defendant-Appellee., No. 07 L 8747, on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois, decided on May 20, 2010.

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