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Governor signs pretrial interest legislation into law

Governor signs pretrial interest legislation into law

By RAYMON TRONCOSO
Capitol News Illinois
[email protected]

SPRINGFIELD – Gov. JB Pritzker signed legislation Friday allowing for plaintiffs to collect pretrial interest on money awarded in some civil suits, after vetoing a previous version of the provision in March.

An amendment to Senate Bill 72, introduced by Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Swansea, grants 6 percent pretrial interest on money awarded to plaintiffs in personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits in civil court.

Hospitals and health care providers are typical defendants in these cases.

Before the passage of the legislation, plaintiffs received only 9 percent interest post-judgment in Illinois. That would be interest accrued on the plaintiff’s monetary award from when the judgment is made to the time the monetary judgment is received.

Now, additional interest on monetary awards is retroactively applied from the time the lawsuit is filed to the time a judgment is made in favor of the plaintiff.

Both apply only to cases settled in court, encouraging defendants to settle with plaintiffs out of court.

There are 47 states, including Illinois, that now have some form of pretrial interest for court winnings. In his March veto message, Pritzker said he did not support the previous version of the bill because its rate of 9 percent interest was significantly higher than other states with similar laws.

The Illinois Manufacturers’ Association, which lobbied against the bill, issued a statement after its signing.

“This measure will dramatically increase litigation costs on manufacturers, hospitals, and doctors that have been on the front lines throughout the pandemic,” IMA President Mark Denzler said in the release. “Policy makers should be focused on supporting manufacturers to spur economic recovery from the pandemic, not making it harder for businesses to hire workers and invest in our communities.”

The provision, which does not apply retroactively, goes into effect June 21.

The Illinois State Medical Society, which also opposed the bill, claims the new law will harm the state’s liability climate.

“The consequences of this new law will be felt when physicians decide Illinois is too expensive of a state to practice medicine. Prejudgment interest will drive up medical liability payouts, force doctors away from our borders and increase the cost of health care. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: The bottom line is that patients will suffer,” ISMS President Regan Thomas said in a written statement.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government and distributed to more than 400 newspapers statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation.

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