Curtis v. HighfillAnnotate this Case
In this wrongful death case, the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the circuit court striking the evidence supporting a claim for punitive damages against Defendant, a physician who repeatedly prescribed narcotic pain medication to a patient, holding that, under the circumstances of this case, the circuit court erred by granting Defendant's motion to strike.
The patient in this case died from an accidental overdose of oxycodone, alcohol, and prescription medications. Plaintiff, the administrator of the decedent's estate, filed a wrongful death action against Defendant. In addition to damages permitted in wrongful death actions the administrator requested an award of punitive damages. Defendant conceded that he breached the applicable standard of care with respect to his care and treatment of the decedent but moved to strike the punitive damages claim. The circuit court granted the motion to strike. At issue was whether a jury could have concluded that Defendant's actions constituted a "willful and wanton" disregard for the decedent's health and safety. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that, under the specific circumstances of this case, the administrator's punitive damages claim should have been submitted to the jury.