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Punitive Damages Now Allowed in Illinois Wrongful Death Cases


  • Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker has signed into law HB 219 to allow punitive damages to be recoverable in wrongful death and survival actions.
  • Punitive damages are now recoverable in wrongful death claims on cases filed on or after August 11, 2023, and punitive damages may be sought on existing cases on the effective date.
  • This legislation will drastically affect wrongful death cases statewide, as it adds a new avenue of recovery.

Illinois was one of 16 states that did not allow for the …

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The law concept background.

Water Heater Defendant Obtained Partial Summary Judgment

Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles

In this asbestos action, defendant Rheem Manufacturing Company filed a motion for summary judgment, and alternatively summary adjudication, arguing that the plaintiffs do not have evidence that the relevant plaintiff was exposed to asbestos from Rheem products.

To show that a plaintiff cannot establish an element of a cause of action, a defendant must make the initial showing that the plaintiff does not possess, and cannot reasonably obtain, needed evidence. A plaintiff’s deposition testimony that he has …

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Supplier Defendant Succeeds in Opposing Punitive Damages

Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles

In this asbestos action, the court considered various defense motions.

Defendant Western Auto Supply company filed a request opposing punitive damages, arguing that the plaintiffs cannot prove that it acted with oppression, malice or fraud. Summary judgment or summary adjudication on the issue of punitive damages is proper only when no reasonable jury could find the plaintiff’s evidence to be clear and convincing proof of malice, fraud or oppression.

For a corporate defendant, the oppression, fraud or …

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Talc Supplier’s Motion for Summary Judgment Denied as to Causation, Granted as to Punitive Damages

Court: Supreme Court of New York, Erie County

In this asbestos matter, plaintiffs claimed that decedent, Jeffrey Campise, was exposed to asbestos through consumer talcum powder products. Plaintiffs filed suit against a number of manufacturers of cosmetic-talc products, along with Whitaker, Clark & Daniels (WCD), as an alleged supplier of talc to the aforementioned manufacturers. WCD filed a motion for summary judgment seeking to dismiss plaintiffs’ claims in their entirety. 

As a preliminary matter, WCD argued it was speculative as to whether its talc was in …

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Boiler Manufacturer Partial Motions for Summary Judgment on Punitive Damages Denied

Court: Supreme Court of New York, New York County (NYCAL)

In these asbestos actions, defendant Burnham LLC moved for partial summary judgment seeking the dismissal of the plaintiffs’ punitive damage claims, arguing the plaintiffs failed to establish that Burnham’s conduct rose to the level of egregious and morally culpable conduct necessary for the award of punitive damages.  

In the first matter, plaintiff Frank Passanisi worked as a painter from 1966 to 1986. He alleged exposure to asbestos from Burnham boilers from performing work on …

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Asbestos Year in Review: Punitive Damages in Asbestos Litigation

In asbestos litigation, it is common for plaintiffs to demand punitive damages, alleging that the conduct of some or all of the defendants was so egregious that the defendants must pay exemplary damages. Unlike compensatory damages, the purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the plaintiff but rather to punish a defendant for reckless and wanton acts and to discourage the defendant and others from acting in a similar way in the future.

While compensatory damages are rooted in actual expenses, the value of …

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Finding of Limited Exposure Entitles Defendant to Dismissal of Punitive Damages

Supreme Court of New York, New York County, January 12, 2022

The defendant Graybar Electric Company filed a motion for partial summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages ought to be dismissed citing that punitive damages are inappropriate because the plaintiff only encountered Graybar’s product once during his career. The plaintiff’s opposition argued that issues of fact remain regarding the plaintiff’s exposure to asbestos-containing cement pipe that was sold and distributed by Graybar. The plaintiff contended that Graybar merely pointed to gaps …

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Plaintiff’s Punitive Damages Claim Withstands Summary Judgment Against Brake Manufacturer

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, May 10, 2021

In this asbestos action, Mr. Toy (the plaintiff) alleged that he worked with asbestos-containing brakes manufactured by Bendix in the 1950s and 1970s. Defendant Honeywell as successor-in-interest to Bendix moved for summary judgment on several grounds. The plaintiff only opposed the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the punitive damages claim.

Under California Civil Code § 3294(a), “a plaintiff may recover punitive damages “where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that …

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Partial Summary Judgment Denied to Shipbuilding Company and Auto Parts Retailer

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, March 30, 2021

Before the court are motions for summary judgment filed by defendant National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) and Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack of California.

Defendant NASSCO moves for summary judgment on the theory that, as a government contractor, it enjoys derivative immunity from asbestos- related liability. In the alternative, should material facts regarding its overhaul of the USS Bristol County remain in dispute, NASSCO moves for partial summary judgment as to the plaintiffs’ premises …

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$25.5 Million Punitive Damages Award Reversed; New Trial Ordered on Apportionment of Fault in Automobile Brake Case

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Two, March 25, 2021

In this asbestos action, plaintiff Arthur Putt replaced brake pads manufactured and supplied by several different entities in connection with cars manufactured by three different companies in two California gas stations from 1966 until 1970. The plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2018 and testified that 40 percent of his brake work involved Ford vehicles, and 40 percent of his total work with Ford vehicles involved removing the factory-installed brake pads. The …

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