Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of SB0234
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Full Text of SB0234  103rd General Assembly



State of Illinois
2023 and 2024


Introduced 1/31/2023, by Sen. Jil Tracy


New Act

    Creates the Full and Fair Noneconomic Damages Act. Provides that, in determining noneconomic damages, the fact-finder may not consider: (i) evidence of a defendant's alleged wrongdoing, misconduct, or guilt; (ii) evidence of the defendant's wealth or financial resources; or (iii) any other evidence that is offered for the purpose of punishing the defendant, rather than offered for a compensatory purpose. Provides for bifurcated trials before the same jury in cases involving punitive damages, if requested by any defendant. Outlines the procedure for the bifurcated trials. Provides for court posttrial review of noneconomic damage awards pursuant to specified nonexclusive factors. Includes legislative findings, definitions, and applicability language. Effective immediately.

LRB103 24948 LNS 51282 b





SB0234LRB103 24948 LNS 51282 b

1    AN ACT concerning civil law.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 1. Short title. This Act may be cited as the Full
5and Fair Noneconomic Damages Act.
6    Section 5. Findings.
7    (a) The purpose of this Act is to ensure that individuals
8receive full and fair compensatory damages, including damages
9for pain and suffering.
10    (b) Pain and suffering awards are intended to provide an
11injured person with compensation for the pain and suffering
12resulting from the injury at issue in a particular lawsuit.
13    (c) Punitive damages are intended to punish a defendant
14for wrongful conduct. Punitive damages are subject to certain
15statutory requirements, must be based on the appropriate
16evidence, and must be in accordance with the constitutional
17jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of the United States.
18    (d) Pain and suffering awards are distinct from punitive
19damages. Pain and suffering awards are intended to compensate
20a person for the person's loss. They are not intended to punish
21a defendant for wrongful conduct.
22    (e) For that reason, evidence that juries may consider in
23awarding pain and suffering damages is different from evidence



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1courts may consider for punitive damages. For example, the
2amount of a plaintiff's pain and suffering is not relevant to a
3decision on wrongdoing, and the degree of the defendant's
4wrongdoing is not relevant to the amount of pain and
6    (f) The size of noneconomic damage awards, which includes
7pain and suffering, has increased dramatically in recent
8years. While pain and suffering awards are inherently
9subjective, the General Assembly believes that this inflation
10of noneconomic damages is partially due to the improper
11consideration of evidence of wrongdoing in assessing pain and
12suffering damages.
13    (g) Inflated damage awards create an improper resolution
14of civil justice claims. The increased and improper costs of
15litigation and resulting rise in insurance premiums are passed
16on to the public through higher prices for products and
17services. Therefore, courts should provide juries with clear
18instructions about the purpose of pain and suffering damages.
19Courts should instruct juries that evidence of misconduct is
20not to be considered in deciding compensation for noneconomic
21damages. Rather, it is to be considered solely for the purpose
22of deciding punitive damage awards.
23    (h) In each case in which an award for punitive damages is
24requested, the defendant should have the right to request
25bifurcation of a trial to ensure that evidence of misconduct
26is not inappropriately considered by the jury in its



SB0234- 3 -LRB103 24948 LNS 51282 b

1determination of liability and compensatory damages.
2    (i) As an additional protection, trial and appellate
3courts should rigorously review pain and suffering awards to
4ensure that they properly serve compensatory purposes and are
5not excessive.
6    Section 10. Definitions. As used in this Act:
7    "Exemplary damages" means damages awarded as a penalty or
8by way of punishment but not for compensatory purposes.
9"Exemplary damages" are neither economic nor noneconomic
10damages. "Exemplary damages" includes punitive damages.
11    "Noneconomic damages" means damages, recoverable in a tort
12action, that are awarded for the purpose of compensating a
13claimant for physical pain and suffering, mental or emotional
14pain or anguish, loss of consortium, disfigurement, physical
15impairment, loss of companionship and society, inconvenience,
16loss of enjoyment of life, and all other nonpecuniary losses
17other than exemplary or punitive damages.
18    "Pain and suffering" means the type of noneconomic damages
19that cover actual physical pain and suffering that is the
20proximate result of a physical injury sustained by a person.
21    Section 15. Noneconomic damages; determination. In
22determining noneconomic damages, the finder of fact may not
24        (1) evidence of a defendant's alleged wrongdoing,



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1    misconduct, or guilt;
2        (2) evidence of a defendant's wealth or financial
3    resources; or
4        (3) any other evidence that is offered for the purpose
5    of punishing a defendant, rather than offered for a
6    compensatory purpose.
7    Section 20. Procedure for trial of compensatory and
8punitive damages.
9    (a) All actions involving punitive damages tried before a
10jury shall, if requested by any defendant, be conducted in a
11bifurcated trial before the same jury.
12    (b) In the first stage of a bifurcated trial, the jury
13shall determine liability for compensatory damages and the
14amount of compensatory damages or nominal damages. Evidence
15relevant only to the issues of punitive damages is not
16admissible in this stage.
17    (c) Punitive damages may be awarded only if compensatory
18damages have been awarded in the first stage of the trial. An
19award of nominal damages cannot support an award of punitive
21    (d) In the second stage of a bifurcated trial, the jury
22shall determine whether a defendant is liable for punitive
24    Section 25. Review of noneconomic damage awards.



SB0234- 5 -LRB103 24948 LNS 51282 b

1    (a) Upon a posttrial motion, a trial court shall perform a
2rigorous analysis of the evidence supporting a noneconomic
3damages award challenged as excessive. The court shall
4consider in its analysis the following nonexclusive factors:
5        (1) Whether the evidence presented or the arguments of
6    counsel resulted in one or more of the following events in
7    the determination of a noneconomic damage award:
8            (A) It inflamed the passion or prejudice of the
9        trier of fact.
10            (B) It resulted in the improper consideration of
11        the wealth of the defendant.
12            (C) It resulted in the improper consideration of
13        the misconduct of the defendant so as to punish the
14        defendant in circumvention of statutory or
15        constitutional standards applicable to punitive damage
16        awards.
17        (2) Whether the verdict is in excess of verdicts
18    involving comparable injuries to similarly situated
19    plaintiffs.
20        (3) Whether there were any extraordinary circumstances
21    in the record to account for an award in excess of what was
22    granted by courts to similarly situated plaintiffs, with
23    consideration to the injury type, the severity of the
24    injury, and the plaintiff's age.
25    (b) A trial court upholding a noneconomic damages award
26challenged as excessive shall set forth in writing its reasons



SB0234- 6 -LRB103 24948 LNS 51282 b

1for upholding the award.
2    (c) A reviewing court shall use a de novo standard of
3review when considering an appeal of a noneconomic damages
4award on the grounds of excessiveness.
5    Section 30. Applicability. This Act applies to actions
6filed on or after its effective date.
7    Section 99. Effective date. This Act takes effect upon
8becoming law.