Can Both Treble Damages As Well As Common-Law Punitive Damages Be Recovered Under Survival Act ?
In Harris v. Manor Healthcare Corp., 111 Ill. 2d 350, 489 N.E.2d 1374, 95 Ill. Dec. 510 (1986), a nursing home resident (not an estate administrator, thus, not in a Survival Act claim) sued a nursing home for injuries under the Act.
The plaintiff sought treble and compensatory damages under section 3-602.
In addition, the plaintiff sought common-law punitive damages pursuant to sections 3-603 and 3-604, which allow a plaintiff to pursue other actions permitted by law.
In part, the supreme court considered whether the Act violated due process by providing for treble damages, which are punitive, while also allowing a plaintiff to pursue common-law punitive damages. Harris, 111 Ill. 2d at 357.
The court held that the recovery of both treble damages under the Act and common-law punitive damages would constitute double recovery for a single injury and that, therefore, a plaintiff "can recover either treble damages under the Act or common-law punitive damages, but not both." Harris, 111 Ill. 2d at 365.
The court did not require that a plaintiff elect to pursue only one of the remedies, but it noted that section 3-603's provision that a resident may maintain an action "for any other type of relief permitted by law" did not authorize recovery of both treble damages and common-law punitive damages. Harris, 111 Ill. 2d at 363, 365.
Rather, section 3-603 merely made available to plaintiffs remedies or actions for violations of the Act that are "different or distinct" from the damages remedy already provided for in section 3-602. Harris, 111 Ill. 2d at 363.
Finally, the court noted that section 3-604's provision that the Act's remedies are "cumulative" to any other available legal remedy was "just another way of stating that the remedy is not exclusive." Harris, 111 Ill. 2d at 365.