Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich is expected to sign the state's medical malpractice reform bill into law Thursday at Saint Anthony's Hospital in Alton.

The controversial reform package, which caps physicians' liability at $500,000 and hospitals' at $1 million, was passed by the Illinois legislature May 31. But the governor has stalled enacting the measure.

Sources close to the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association (ITLA)--a group staunchly opposed to caps on medical malpractice damages--say an 11th hour veto pitch made to the governor earlier failed. The group's executive committee, including Metro East attorney Judy Cates of Belleville, reportedly met with Blagojevich earlier this week.

ITLA rank-and-file personal injury lawyers, who have collectively donated millions to Blagojevich's campaign coffers, are vowing to cut ties with the governor.

The lawyers' group, which had been promised by the governor that he would not sign a caps bill, was a major financier of Blagojevich's campaign in 2002. Blagojevich repeatedly told ITLA he was "morally opposed" to caps.

Locally, State Rep. Jay Hoffman (D-Collinsville) may feel the brunt of ITLA's ire. Hoffman, a trial attorney, voted in favor of the caps bill. He is a consultant with the Lakin Law Firm in Wood River.

"Why would I give money to someone who would hurt me," said an ITLA member who claims that sentiment is widespread in the organization.

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