April 1, 2009

Marsten v. Walgreens: Illinois Appellate Court Vacates $25 Million Punitive Damages Award

The Daily Herald has a story about an Illinois appellate opinion vacating a $25 million punitive damages award because the plaintiff died. Apparently, Illinois law differs from California law on this point. In California, when a plaintiff dies, the plaintiff's estate can recover punitive damages, although the plaintiff's heirs cannot recover punitive damages in a wrongful death action. (See Code Civ. Proc., §§ 377.34 [authorizing in a survival action the recovery of damages “the decedent sustained or incurred before death, including any penalties or punitive or exemplary damages”], 377.61 [precluding in a wrongful death action “damages recoverable under Section 377.34”].) Last year we blogged about a case in which a federal district court vacated a $5 million punitive damages award that was improperly awarded on a wrongful death claim.