SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Bruce Rauner's veto of a bill that raised the award cap from $100,000 to $2 million for tort cases against the state that are litigated in the Illinois Court of Claims has been overridden.
During veto session on Tuesday, the House voted 71-36 to override Rauner's veto of Senate Bill 2481.
The Court of Claims is the only court in Illinois in which plaintiffs can bring personal injury claims against a state agency or state employee.
Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) questioned how lawmakers arrived at the $2 million cap.
“I understand moving from the $100,000 limit to a larger number, but how did you arrive at $2 million?” Breen asked.
Rep. Al Riley (D-Richton Park), who moved for the override, said cap limits for other states were reviewed and found that Illinois was one of the lowest.
“Thirty-three states range from $100,000 to $2 million, but 17 states don’t have a cap at all,” Riley said. “The $2 million was right around the midpoint of all the states that have caps.”
Riley said his original bill had no cap at all.
Breen asked how this would affect cases in which there are multiple claimants.
“You have multiple increases in final claims,” Breen said. “Our neighboring states have lower limits or if it’s uncapped, I’m presuming they’ve fixed this issue that there could be multiple claimants on an injury.”
Riley said it adds operational efficiencies, but it doesn’t change existing statute.
“One of the problems, when you compare surrounding states, is that they’re not Illinois,” Riley said.
Rep. Dave Harris (R-Mount Prospect) said it’s irrelevant what other states pay for tort claims.
“We’re talking about an injury to someone,” Harris said. “They’re not going to come to Illinois to get injured just because the limit is higher.
Harris said he urged a yes vote.
Rep. Stephanie Kifowit (D-Aurora) said the $2 million cap was negotiated with the Court of Claims.
“It is reasonable and it is fair,” Kifowit said. “This is a good bill. This is a bill that needs to be done and it is long overdue.”
Riley said the bill is what it is.
“Let’s not make it what it isn’t,” Riley said. “Vote it up or vote it down. This a bill whose time has come. It gives extra discretion for settlements in the tort of claims.”
Riley’s original bill would remove the cap from tort claims, but it was changed to a cap of $2 million. A cap of $100,000 had been in place for several decades.
Rauner vetoed the bill in August, suggesting the maximum award be changed to $300,000.