HOW THEY ARE AWARDED AT TRIAL AND UPHELD ON APPEAL A Primer on Punitive Damages in Illinois By Brett Geschke
W hile the amount of civil jury awards for compensatory dam- ages tend to be calculated pre- cisely, the amount of punitive damages assessed can be unpredictable. In other words, the valuation of a case can range widely if there is a possibility the jury might award punitive damages. It is vital
for both plaintiffs attorneys and defense counsel to understand how jurors are instructed to consider awarding puni- tive damages, and how such an award is reviewed on appeal. It is also worth noting that, unlike compensatory damages, puni- tive damages are typically excluded from coverage in insurance policies.
A jury may award the plaintiff punitive damages where a defendant’s underlying conduct, resulting in harm to the plain- tiff, is “willful and wanton,” outrageous, or where the defendant acted with actual malice, fraud, deliberate violence, or gross negligence. Loitz v. Remington Arms Co., 138 Ill. 2d 404 (1990). The purpose of