2019 JVR Settlements Report

New year, new settlements. New rankings to scour.

Photo by Lisa Predko
Photo by Lisa Predko
October 2019
By John McNally
Managing editor

Every year, Chicago Lawyer and Jury Verdict Reporter — a sister publication of Law Bulletin Media — analyze the top reported settlements. The 2019 JVR Settlements Report includes 634 Illinois cases that were submitted to Jury Verdict Reporter between July 1, 2018, and June 30, 2019. The total value of these settlements was more than $1.7 billion, including four business cases that settled for $330 million.

This year’s rankings of all settlements of $500,000 or more feature 109 firms reporting at least one settlement in that range. Last year’s rankings had more than $1.5 billion from 377 cases. The number of qualifying firms increased 3% in 2019 compared to 2018. There were 62 new firms making this year’s rankings with 47 returning firms.

On the rise

Thirty-five firms reported $10 million or more in settlements, a 9% increase compared to 2018 and a 13% increase from 2017. Seven firms reported totals in excess of $50 million, a 40% increase from 2018, but only 17% increase from 2017.

Some other interesting 2019 vs. 2018 statistics include:

  • The median value across all settlements increased 25% from $600,000 in 2018 to $750,000; and
  • The average value across all settlements increased 4% from $2.68 million in 2018 to $2.8 million in 2019.

Also, the 2019 report shows sexual abuse cases totaling more than $78 million; premises liability cases rose more than 16% compared to 2018 with 58 total cases; medical-malpractice cases increased more than 60% with 254 cases totaling more than $665 million; auto collision totals rose 70% despite a slight decrease in overall cases in 2019; and Cook County saw a 20% increase in the total number of cases while the average case value dropped.

Under pre-2016 JVR report standards that only included settlements of $2 million or more, 2019 shows large increases even when business cases are excluded. This year, there was a 22% increase in the number of cases of $2 million or more with 151 cases and a 15% increase in the total amount of settlements with more than $1 billion. The 2018 report included 124 cases of $2 million or more for a total of more than $944 million in settlements.

Ten years running

Power Rogers & Smith has locked down the top spot for the 10th straight year. The personal-injury firm completed 32 cases for more than $246 million. In 2018, Power Rogers & Smith had 24 settlements totaling just short of $205 million. Their top case was a $40 million med-mal case where a child suffered catastrophic brain damage due to complications from untreated infections.

We spoke with Joe Power and many of the firm’s lawyers about this year’s results and the lasting culture of success the firm has developed over the last 10 years and beyond. That story is on page 22.

Margaret Battersby Black

Margaret Battersby Black, a Levin & Perconti partner, was first chair for a total of 20 of the 24 settlements she was involved with in the 2019 JVR report. Battersby Black talked with us about the cases she settled, her approach and more. Her story is on page 26.

Start submitting your settlements

To submit your settlements of $500,000 or more for the 2020 JVR settlements report, please visit lawbulletinmedia.com/SettlementForm.