“The only persons who will benefit from this are members of the plaintiffs’ bar,” Goldberg Segalla’s James W. Ozog said of the recently passed Illinois H.B. 3360, which would add nine percent prejudgment interest to personal injury and wrongful death verdicts. “In effect, it penalizes a defendant for going to trial and losing.”
Jim, a senior trial partner based in Goldberg Segalla’s Chicago office, focuses his practice on defending high-exposure catastrophic injury and product liability lawsuits. He said the bill is problematic given Illinois’ so-called savings statute, which allows plaintiffs to voluntarily dismiss a case and refile within a year, and which could tack on 12 months of interest if a case ends up with a plaintiff verdict.
“So assume a plaintiff files on the eve of [the expiration of the] statute of limitations and litigates for a while … our savings statute allows the plaintiff to take a voluntary dismissal and refile in a year,” Jim said. “So if someone, by design or otherwise, wants to jack up interest, they can use the voluntary dismissal statute to delay the case further. Nothing in the [prejudgment interest] statute says interest doesn’t accrue during that time so it’s a significant penalty on defendants.”
Jim said he “would debate anyone” on the plaintiffs’ bar’s assertion that the bill is necessary to stop defendants from delaying litigation.
“That’s simply not the case,” Jim said. “In my 40 years of practice, I’ve never experienced a client asking me to delay resolution of a case or time of trial,” he said.
Jim added that he believes Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker is likely to sign the bill, which would have a significant negative impact on businesses and defendants in the state.
“Ill. Attys See Injury Award Interest Bill As Boon And Burden,” Law360, January 26, 2021
James W. Ozog has more than four decades of experience in product-liability defense and commercial litigation. He has achieved national recognition for his litigation experience, which includes handling cases in 28 states and trying product liability cases to verdict in nine states. Jim serves as national product-liability defense counsel for a number of national and international manufacturers in fire, explosion, and catastrophic burn cases, and he defends several food and beverage manufacturers. He also has significant experience defending toxic tort cases, including those involving exposure to asbestos, silicosis, welding fumes, and benzene. He also represents the transportation industry and affiliated insurance carriers as well as vehicle/component part manufacturers in catastrophic accidents and product liability cases.