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Townsend v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.

227 Ill. 2d 147, 879 N.E.2d 893 (2007)

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Townsend v. Sears, Roebuck & Co.

Illinois Supreme Court

227 Ill. 2d 147, 879 N.E.2d 893 (2007)

Facts

Michelle Townsend, a Michigan resident, (plaintiff) individually and on behalf of her minor son brought a personal-injury action in an Illinois state court against Sears, Roebuck & Co. (defendant) for damages sustained when Townsend’s minor son was severely injured in Michigan by a lawnmower that was manufactured by Electrolux Home Products in South Carolina and purchased by Townsend’s husband from a Sears store in Michigan. Sears is a New York corporation with its principal place of business in Michigan. Townsend’s complaint alleged strict products liability and negligence based on an alleged design defect and failure to warn. Three conflict-of-laws questions arose regarding whether Illinois or Michigan law would apply to the issues of liability and damages. The first conflict was about liability: Illinois law followed strict liability for products design defects, although Michigan law imposed a strict-negligence standard in such cases. The second conflict was about compensatory damages: Illinois had no cap, and Michigan capped noneconomic damages. The third conflict was about punitive damages: Illinois law allowed for punitive damages in appropriate cases, but Michigan law did not. The trial and appellate courts concluded that Illinois law applied to the liability and damages issues. Sears appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Freeman, J.)

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