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Case Law Update: Punitive Damages in Wrongful Death

The Illinois case of Martson v. Walgreen Company, No. 1-07-0209 (March 31, 2009) affirmed that the death of plaintiff’s decedent, before trial of cause of action against pharmacy and dispensing pharmacist, for filling his prescription for anti gout medication with medication for diabetes; causing him to go into kidney failure, suffer brain damage, and, ultimately, die, absent specific authorizing legislation, foreclosed award of punitive damages. However, award of $6 Million Dollars as compensatory damages is not excessive, is supported by medical testimony of causation, and does not require retrial. Further, trial court lacked jurisdiction to allow decedent’s children to intervene in litigation after notice of appeal had already been filed by defendant. This case will have a profound impact on wrongful death cases.