Rauner-linked nursing home “bust out” case goes to trial this month

By DOUG IBENDAHL • September 3, 2014

 

Bruce Rauner may soon feel like hitting the bottle. A very nice bottle for sure. One from his swanky Napa Valley wine club we assume.

 

Remember that case U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Michael G. Williamson said “has all the makings of a legal thriller?”

 

Well according to Judge Williamson’s court calendar, the final pre-trial conference is scheduled for September 8. The trial itself is set to begin on September 22 at 9:00 AM, and right now Judge Williamson has set aside all following days for the case through October 3.

 

The case centers on an alleged “bust out” scheme whereby business assets were purportedly fraudulently transferred in order to intentionally hide them from plaintiffs who had won massive judgments in nursing home wrongful death cases.

 

Among the leading defendants in the case is GTCR, the Chicago-based private equity firm chaired for many years by Rauner, up until October 2012 and the beginning of his gubernatorial campaign.

 

As we first reported back in May, Judge Williamson denied in significant part the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case earlier this year.

 

In a 40-page Opinion from March 14, the Court said claims against GTCR for aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty had merit and therefore could proceed.

 

Similarly, claims for breach of fiduciary were allowed to proceed against Edgar Jannotta, formerly one of Rauner’s fellow GTCR principals. As we noted in our original story which broke the Rauner nursing home scandal back in January, Jannotta was GTCR’s point-man on nursing homes. He’s now among the largest financial contributors to Rauner’s campaign.

 

Rauner has repeatedly claimed “there’s no there there.” GTCR had one last opportunity pre-trial to convince the Court that Rauner’s right via a motion for summary judgment. But on August 26, Judge Williamson denied the motions for summary judgment by both GTCR and Jannotta.

 

Three days later on August 29, GTCR, Jannotta and other defendants filed their trial witness lists with the Court.

 

Things are about to get very real for Mr. Rauner. The man has gone to great lengths to cloak the details of his business dealings, a task made easier by the privately held structure of GTCR.

 

But in a few short weeks, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida will be center stage for what is likely to provide an unprecedented look at how GTCR under Rauner treated nursing home victims.

 

Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.

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