$45.3M Illinois Malpractice Verdict Upheld

After a 10-day trial, an Illinois medical malpractice jury returned a verdict for Butts, awarding $45.3 million in damages. The trial court granted Butts $2.8 million in prejudgment interest…medicalmalpracticelawyers.com, $45.3M Illinois Medical Malpractice Verdict Upheld, May 2024


The judge instructed the jury to decide whether any one of four actions or omissions that Butts alleged the emergency room doctor did or failed to do breached the standard of care and proximately caused his injuries. The trial court also instructed the jury that its verdict must be unanimous. During deliberations, the jury sent two notes to the judge, asking whether they needed to have unanimity regarding any of the four findings and indicating they did not. The trial judge responded in writing to both questions, “[Y]ou must make a unanimous decision that Dr. Joo was negligent. You do not need to be unanimous as to which one of the *** possible acts constitute the negligence.”


The defendants appealed, arguing that (i) the trial judge’s answers to the jury questions deprived it of its constitutional right to a unanimous jury verdict and constitutes reversible error and (ii) the statute mandating prejudgment interest in personal injury and wrongful death cases, section 2-1303(c) of the Code of Civil Procedure (Code) (735 ILCS 5/2-1303(c) (West 2022)), is unconstitutional.


The Appellate Court of Illinois First District (“Illinois Appellate Court”) stated in its Opinion filed on March 8, 2024: “To succeed on a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff must prove (i) the standard of care a medical provider should have followed, (ii) the defendant failed to meet the standard of care, and (iii) the plaintiff’s injuries were proximately caused by the defendant’s failure to meet the standard of care … Butts had to prove (i) the standard of care, (ii) that Dr. Joo did not meet it, and (iii) proximate cause. The specific allegations of Dr. Joo’s acts or omissions are not separate elements of the claim on which the jury must unanimously agree, provided they agree his failure to meet the standard of care caused Butts’s injuries. The jury’s verdict indicated they unanimously agreed Dr. Joo’s negligence caused Butts’s brain injury. That is all the law requires. We affirm the judgment.”


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