Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Judgment for Plaintiffs in Insurance Bad Faith Claim Due to Jury Size Issue

Losing a loved one is a painful experience. The devastation can be even more life-changing when the victim is a baby or child. The dedicated Chicago wrongful death lawyers at Therman Law Offices have seen how a family can be forever torn apart by a doctor’s carelessness. Having to deal with insurance companies who don’t always have your best interests in mind can make this process even more burdensome. In a recent appellate case, the plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against an insurer, asserting a claim for a bad faith failure to settle a lawsuit. The jury ultimately ruled in the plaintiff’s favor and awarded them a multi-million dollar judgment. The insurer appealed, raising a number of issues.

In the underlying lawsuit, the plaintiffs brought claims against many individuals, including the doctors who provided treatment to their child. Many of the defendants were either dismissed from the action or resolved through summary judgment proceedings before the issue with the insurance company arose. The jury returned a wrongful death verdict for the parents, which was offset by various pre-trial settlement payments from the other defendants. The insurer paid the policy limits on the remaining verdict. Over $1 million remained after the insurer paid the policy limits, and the defendant physicians in the lawsuit were personally responsible for the amount. The defendant physicians signed over their right to pursue a bad faith failure to settle the claim against the insurance company in exchange for a covenant to not enforce the excess judgment against them.

The plaintiffs then filed the bad faith insurance action against the insurer, seeking compensation in the amount of the remaining verdict as well as $10 million for punitive damages, reflecting the insurer’s failure to settle or resolve the claim. The plaintiffs also requested a jury trial and requested a six-person jury pursuant to a specific Illinois code provision that allows for six-person juries in civil matters. The insurer challenged the use of a six-person jury panel, but its challenge was denied. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded the remaining judgment amount, as well as $13 million in punitive damages and attorney’s fees and costs.

The insurer appealed on a number of grounds, including an argument that the six-person jury violated its constitutional rights. The appellate court agreed with the insurance company, citing an earlier opinion from another court that found the Illinois statute providing for six-person juries to be unconstitutional. As a result, the appellate court remanded the matter for a new trial on the issue of whether the insurer engaged in bad faith settlement practices.

If you recently lost a loved one as a result of a fatal accident, you probably have questions about your legal rights and whether the person who caused the accident owes you compensation. At Therman Law Offices, our team of Chicago trial lawyers has guided numerous families through a wrongful death action. We can assist you with all of the aspects of your claim, including fighting against insurance companies and ensuring that you receive the fair and timely treatment that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us now at 773-545-8849 or contact us online.

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