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Tort Reform Overruled

The Illinois Supreme Court has held that key provisions of the Tort Reform legislation enacted in 1995 are unconstitutional. Because the remainder of the Act could not be separated from the unconstitutional provisions, the court held that the entire legislation was invalid.

Damages Cap

The $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in injury cases was found to be unconstitutional because it discriminated against severely injured individuals and it violated the separation of powers by usurping the judiciary's power in reducing excessive jury awards. Based on the court's reasoning, no cap on damages in personal injury cases, regardless of the amount, would be permissible under the Illinois Constitution. Instead, damages will be based on actual pain and suffering, disability, and disfigurement, without a maximum cap.

Contribution Credit

The court also invalidated the "contribution credit" created on behalf of employers who may be responsible for contributing to a plaintiff's injuries. Without this provision, other responsible parties will also be liable for the full amount of the plaintiff's injuries.

Joint and Several Liability

The doctrine of joint and several liability among defendants was also restored. This doctrine arises when two or more defendants contribute to the same indivisible injury. Joint and several liability allows the plaintiff to recover the full amount of the injury from any one of the defendants responsible for the injury regardless of his or her degree of fault. Restoring this doctrine supports the strong public policy that the interests of an injured person in receiving the maximum recovery far outweighs the interests of a wrongdoer in reducing his or her liability.

Medical Information

A plaintiff's right to a private and confidential relationship with his or her physician was restored by the court. Under the invalidated Tort Reform Act, a plaintiff was required to consent to unlimited disclosure of medical information regardless of whether it was relevant to the litigation. The court found that this new law violated the plaintiff's right to privacy regarding confidential medical information.

Although the court only specifically addressed the above provisions, it could not separate these provisions from over 50 other statutes that were added or amended by the Tort Reform Act and, therefore, found the entire Act to be invalid. The court left it up to the General Assembly to reenact the provisions that were not specifically held to be unconstitutional.

This website is not intended to constitute legal advice or the provision of legal services. By posting and/or maintaining the website and its contents, Lucas Law does not intend to solicit business from clients located in states or jurisdictions outside of Illinois wherein Lucas Law or its individual attorney(s) are not licensed or authorized to practice law.

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