On May 1, 2019, Partner Larry Rogers, Jr., Second Vice President of the Illinois Trial Lawyers’ Association testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of HB 2233 to amend the Code of Illinois Civil Procedure regarding Special Interrogatories. Special Interrogatories are juror test questions used to defeat injured parties’ claims by negating jury verdicts.
Mr. Rogers described to the Senate Committee instances where jurors have worked for weeks and rendered jury verdicts for an injured party or their family only to have those verdicts wiped out because of an answer to a “Special Interrogatory” question that fooled, “hoodwinked” and outright tricked them. Current law requires judges to give a jury a Special Interrogatory question if it is proposed by a party, even if it is unnecessary.
The proposed amendments to the statute would allow judges the discretion to decide whether a Special Interrogatory question is necessary, thereby no longer making it mandatory that it be given. Secondly, the proposed amendments permit the attorneys to explain the Special Interrogatory and its impact, before a jury answers it to make sure the jurors understand it which, under the current iteration of the statute is not permitted. In its current form, the Special Interrogatory statute threatens jury verdicts for plaintiffs in personal injury, medical malpractice, wrongful death, airline and aviation crash cases, and trucking negligence litigation matters.
After careful discussion and deliberation, HB2233 was passed out of committee with a 7 to 4 vote, the next step toward a fairer judicial system for injured parties and their families.