Legal Malpractice Case Considering Punitive Damages Argued in Illinois Supreme Court

Midwest Sanitary Service, Inc. v. Sandberg, Phoenix & Von Gontard, P.C. was just argued in the Illinois Supreme Court. The question presented on this Rule 308 appeal is:

“Does Illinois’ public policy on punitive damages and/or the statutory prohibition on punitive damages found in 735 ILCS 5/2-1115 bar recovery of incurred punitive damages in a legal malpractice case where the client alleges that, but for the negligence of the attorney in the underlying case, the jury in the underlying case would have returned a verdict awarding either no punitive damages or punitive damages in a lesser sum?”

Logic dictates that if a lawyer commits malpractice and causes his or her client to get hit with a verdict of $250,000 compensatory and $750,000 in punitive damages, the negligent attorney should be responsible for the harm caused to his or her client: $1,000,000. Both lower courts agreed with this analysis. Likewise, if a lawyer’s malpractice causes a client to lose a case in which $250,000 in compensatory damages and $750,000 in punitive damages would have been won, the negligent lawyer should be responsible for the loss caused to his or her client: $1,000,000.

However, the issue is now before the Illinois Supreme Court.

If you have a question about legal malpractice, contact Thomas Patterson at

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