Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed into law SB0072 (the “Prejudgment Interest Act”), a revised version of the bill he had previously vetoed and that we discussed in a prior alert. The Prejudgment Interest Act will amend the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1303) to provide plaintiffs with prejudgment interest on certain damages awarded in Illinois personal injury and wrongful death cases.[1] While the new law dials back some of the controversial aspects of its predecessor bill – for example, the nine percent interest accruing when the defendant receives notice of the injury – the new law still increases the potential risk that companies face in defending personal injury and wrongful death suits. Unlike the earlier bill, however, the new law gives defendants an opportunity to reduce their risk through settlement offers.
Continue Reading UPDATE: Companies Defending Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Suits in Illinois Now Face Prejudgment Interest

On February 2, 2021, the Eleventh Circuit weighed in on the “ascertainability” debate raging in the federal courts – specifically, whether plaintiffs must show that it would be “administratively feasible” to identify class members before the class can be certified. The term “ascertainability” is not in the text of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23. Some courts, however, view ascertainability as an implicit requirement of a properly defined class. Other courts take it a step further and embrace a “heightened ascertainability” standard – i.e., “administrative feasibility” – and deny certification when plaintiffs fail to prove that the process for identifying absent class members will be administratively feasible.
Continue Reading The Eleventh Circuit Joins the Majority in Rejecting a Heightened Ascertainability Requirement for Class Actions

A new bill sitting on Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s desk could change the calculus for defendants in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits by entitling plaintiffs to prejudgment interest both in future lawsuits and in lawsuits that have already been filed. The bill could make plaintiffs’ verdicts more costly for defendants while also inflating settlement amounts.

HB3360 passed both houses on January 13 and went to the governor on February 4 for signature. If the bill becomes law, it will amend the Code of Civil Procedure (735 ILCS 5/2-1303) to provide plaintiffs with prejudgment interest on all damages awarded in personal injury and wrongful death cases in Illinois.[1] Previously, plaintiffs were entitled only to postjudgment interest in these cases. The bill entitles plaintiffs to collect prejudgment interest in negligence and strict liability, as well as in cases of willful or wanton or intentional misconduct.
Continue Reading Companies Defending Personal Injury or Wrongful Death Suits in Illinois Will Face Prejudgment Interest If New Bill Becomes Law

When a bulk container of vitamins tore and began to leak, it set into motion an unforeseen chain of events — beginning with the injury of Martin Cassidy and ending with an increased risk of strict liability for distributors of allegedly defective products.

In an Illinois strict product liability action, the court must dismiss a distributor once that distributor certifies the identity of the product’s manufacturer. Previously, a plaintiff seeking to vacate such a dismissal order — to reinstate the distributor as a defendant — had to show that the manufacturer was “bankrupt or nonexistent.” Cassidy v. China Vitamins, LLC rejected that rule.[1] The court held instead that the distributor could be reinstated as a defendant if the “plaintiff can establish other circumstances that effectively bar recovery of the full measure of judgment damages” from the manufacturer.

What are these other circumstances? The court declined to say, leaving it up to distributors, manufacturers, their counsel, and trial courts to attempt to define them.
Continue Reading I Can’t Get No Satisfaction: Illinois Revisits the Standard for Imposing Strict Liability on Nonmanufacturers