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7th Circuit affirms District Court in long-running nursing home litigation

February 12, 2013

More than a decade’s worth of litigation was tied up in a 21-page opinion from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, which affirmed decisions in favor of a landowner against the owners of a nursing home lessee.

The panel ruled in Lock Realty Corp. IX v. U.S. Health LP, et al, 11-3477, 11-3570 and 12-1334, that the District Court for the Northern District of Indiana in South Bend had ruled correctly in matters that both parties raised in three appeals. “We are presented with a potpourri of issues covering everything from the propriety of a partial summary judgment in Lock’s favor to the district court’s attorneys’ fee decision,” Judge Diane Wood wrote for the unanimous panel. “On the merits, we find no reversible error in the various rulings … and so we affirm.”

In sum, Lock was awarded $1,359,345 in damages and $818,267 in costs. Lock prevailed on claims that U.S. Health assigned the lease to Americare Living Centers III, LLC without its knowledge; that U.S. Health had violated a provision of the lease to fund a replacement reserve; and that U.S. Health had breached its lease contract for nonpayment of rent.

While the 7th Circuit upheld the District Court rulings in the multiple appeals, it did so with disfavor of rulings that sometimes took a year or more.

“It is unfortunate that this litigation spun so far out of control,” Wood wrote. “The long delays that punctuated the course of proceedings, even if motivated by hopes of reaching settlement or at least an agreed way to move forward, in the end helped no one. As we said at the outset, the issues before us now represent the end of the line. The district court did not abuse its discretion in the rulings brought before us for review. We therefore affirm the judgments of the district court in all three appeals. Costs are to be taxed against U.S. Health and Americare.”



 

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