First District Illinois Appellate Orders Remittitur Of $25mm Loss Of Society Verdict.

In a wrongful death case, plaintiff was awarded $2 million for loss of support and $25 million for loss of society. While the evidence showed a close family relationship, the verdict still shocked the judicial conscience and was ruled to be excessive.

The appellate court decided that remittitur was preferable to a new trial on damages because there were no trial errors and loss of consortium was warranted by the evidence. Rather than reach the new damage figure, the appellate court remanded to the trial court to revise the loss of consortium award. The appellate court gave minimal guidance to the trial court, stating, “[W]e would find it difficult to deem reasonable a loss of society award of more than seven figures in this case and would certainly find unreasonable an award of any more than one-half of the loss of society award settled upon by the jury.”

This opinion contains interesting discussion about the consumer expectations and risk utility tests, and the propriety of various jury instructions. Get the whole opinion, Mikolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co., No. 1-05-3133 (11/22/06), by clicking here.