Louisiana appellate court upholds $12 million award in maritime case

0

McWilliams v. Exxon Mobil Corp. (La. App. 4/3/2013) (2013 WL 1319749)

Decision:

Opinion by Judge Ezell

$5.5 million actual damages, $12 million punitive damages, to worker who got leukemia through exposure to benzene.

Ohio appellate court upholds award 20 times compensatory damages for rape

0

T.P. v. Weiss (Ohio App. Mar. 25, 2013) (2013 WL 1400704)

Oregon appellate court upholds 200-to-1 ratio in unfair debt collection case

0

Lithia Medform L, Inc. v. Yovan (Or. App. Dec. 19, 2012) (254 Or. App. 307)

Decision:  original; Leagle; Findlaw

Opinion by Justice Nakamoto

Concurrence in part and dissent in part by Justice Wollheim, joined by Chief Justice Haselton and Justices Schuman and Hadlock

Louisiana appellate court reduces $25 million award against driver to $5.1 million

0

Thistlethwaite v. Gonzalez (La. App., Dec. 18, 2012) (106 So.3d 238)

Opinion by Judge Jude G. Gravois

Robert E. Kleinpeter, Julius G. McMains, and Blake R. David for plaintiffs

Louis C. Lacour, Jr., Gregg E. Barrios, Christine S. Fortunato, Robert E. Kerrigan, Jr., and Isaac H. Ryan for defendants

Minnesota appellate court permits judge-awarded punitive damages on equitable claim

0

McGrath v. Mico, Inc. (Minn. App. Dec. 10, 2012) (2012 WL 6097116)

Decision:  Leagle

Opinion by Judge Toussaint

Daniel Oberdorfer, Ryan Stai, Andrew W. Davis, Jennifer Ives, Douglas R. Petersen, Wade S. Davis, for plaintiff

David F. Herr, Martin S. Fallon, Jennifer B. Benowitz, Haley N. Schaffer, Andrew B. Murphy, Dayle Nolan, Christopher J. Jarristhal, Daniel J. Ballintine, John W. Ursu, Lawrence M. Shapiro, Erin Sindberg Porter, Sybil L. Dunlop, for defendants

 

Florida appellate court conditionally upholds $16.2 million award against tobacco company

0

Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Kayton (Fla. App. Nov. 28, 2012)

Decision:  Leagle

Opinion by Judge Taylor

Smoker filed tort suit against tobacco company, recovering $8 million in compensatory damages and $16.2 million in exemplary damages.  Verdict upheld in full, conditioned on a remand to allow a jury to decide defendant’s statute-of-repose affirmative defense against exemplary damages.

John S. Mills and Robert S. Glazier for plaintiff

Lauren R. Goldman, Gary L. Sasso and Andrew S. Brenner for defendant

Florida appellate court reverses $40 million award as excessive

0

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Townsend (Fla. App. Feb. 14, 2012)

Decision:  official; Findlaw.  Background:  LexisNexis.

Opinion by Justice William A. Van Nortwick, Jr.

 

Texas appellate court upholds $17 million award for tortious intereference in oil & gas deal

0

Carlton Energy Group, LLC v. Phillips (Feb. 14, 2012)

Decision:  Leagle

Opinion by Justice Terry Jennings

Exemplary damages on top of $31.6 million compensatory damages (remitted from $66.5 million).

Charles Imlay Appler, Mark E. Bennett, Mitchell Madden, Thomas V. Murto III, Evan A. Young, Henry W. Simon Jr., J. Kevin Oncken, Jeffrey H. Uzick, Joseph M. Nixon, Peter M. Kelly, Kelly, for plaintiffs.

Jeffrey L. Oldham, Warren W. Harris, Kendall C. Montgomery, Paula Janecek Mathers, William F. Hagans, Kevin H. Dubose, Roger D. Townsend, David M. Gunn, Vincent L. Marable, III, Thomas R. Phillips, for defendants.

$10 million award by Kansas City federal jury for misappropriation of trade secrets

0

$20 million verdict in libel case vacated by California trial judge

0

In casino mogul Steve Wynn’s successful lawsuit against “Girls Gone Wild” founder Joe Francis, $19 million in compensatory damages was upheld, but the $20 million in exemplary damages was vacated based on Wynn’s failure to introduce evidence of the defendant’s ability to pay punitive damages.

November 9 decision currently unavailable online.  News coverage here and here.

Kentucky appellate court sustains $96,000 exemplary award for conversion, despite defendant’s payment of zero compensatory damages

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Bledsoe v. United Graffix, Inc. (Ky. App. Nov. 9, 2012) (unpublished).  Opinion here.

Plaintiff owned a billboard along I-75 in Kentucky; defendant wrongfully converted it, for its own profit, for a substantial length of time.  The jury awarded $96,000 in punitive damages, even though no compensatory damages were awarded (a third party, also responsible for the conversion, had already paid all $17,200 of the compensatory damages that had been proved).  The appellate court nonetheless upheld the exemplary award in full, taking into account the defendant’s profiting from its wrongdoing and the 5.5-to-1 ratio between the $96,000 in exemplary damages and the $17,200 in total harm done to the plaintiff.

John F. Kelly, Jr., London, KY, for plaintiff.

Marcia Milby Ridings, London, KY, for defendant

$36 million awarded against insurance company by Ohio jury for business torts against one of its agents

0

Christine Lucarell v. Nationwide Insurance.

The exemplary damages were on top of $6.8 million in compensatory damages.

Verdict was delivered November 4. [check]

Background:  WFMJ.com, Vindy.com.

Caryn Groedel for plaintiff.

Quintin Lindsmith for defendant.

$76 million awarded against Army contractor by Oregon federal jury, for exposing 12 soldiers to carcinogens

0

BLANK v. KBR, Inc.

Verdict delivered November 2.  Each soldier was awarded $850,00 in compensatory (all noneconomic) damages, and $6.25 million in punitive damages.

Background:  CNN, The Oregonian.

David F. Sugerman and Michael P. Doyle for the plaintiffs.

Geoffrey L. Harrison for the defendant.

$10 million awarded against drug company by New York federal jury in failure-to-warn case

0

Barbara Davids v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, No. 2:06-431, E.D. N.Y.

Nov. 2 verdict.  $10 million in exemplary damages; $450,000 in compensatory damages.

Background:  Bloomberg, LexisNexis.

John Vecchione for plaintiff.

Anne Marla Friedman for defendant.

California state trial judge declines to strike exemplary damages claim against utility

0

$850,000 awarded against married couple by California state jury, for their defrauding of home buyers

0

Illinois Supreme Court slashes $1.75 million award for invasion of privacy, down to $65,000, using common-law remittitur

0

Lawlor v. North American Corp. of Illinois (Ill. Oct. 18, 2012).  Opinion by Justice Theis; dissent by Justice Kilbride.

Opinion:  official; JustiaLeagle.

Plaintiff, a salesperson at a graphics company, resigned and accepted a position with a competitor.  She sued the company for invasion of privacy after she learned that as part of an investigation into whether she had breached her fiduciary duty of loyalty, the company had hired an investigation firm which unlawfully obtained her personal telephone records.  The jury awarded $65,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in exemplary damages, remitted by the trial judge down to $650,000 (10-to-1 ratio).

On review, the intermediate appellate court held (here) that the trial court had abused its discretion in disturbing the jury’s verdict, and reinstated it in full (holding in the process that the verdict did not violate federal due process).

On final review, the Illinois Supreme Court exercised the common-law remittitur power to reduce the exemplary damages to 65,000, for a 1-to-1 ratio to the compensatory damages.

Background:  Chicago Tribune

Mitchell B. Katten for plaintiff.

Eric N. Macey for Defendant.

Fla 2-1 decision fraud tobacco

0

JP Morgan trust

0

FedSoc on Ark standard

0

U.S. Supreme Court denies review of “ratio” issue in maritime case

0

Clausen v. Icicle Seafoods, Inc. (Wash. Mar.  15, 2012), Case No. 11-1475.  U.S. Supreme Court docket here.

Cert. denied October 1.  Earlier coverage here.  Complete U.S. Supreme Court filings here.

Madison emp retaliation

0

Alabama Supreme Court upholds $4 million punitive damages award for wrongful death, rejecting “ratio” argument concerning zero compensatory damages

0

Boudreaux v. Pettaway (Ala. Sept. 28, 2012).  Opinion by Justice Greg Shaw; dissent by Justice Glenn Murdock.

Opinion:  Justia; Leagle

Plaintiff’s 32-year-old daughter died during surgery, allegedly due to the negligent administration of anesthesia.  Plaintiff’s wrongful death lawsuit against the medical professionals and hospital involved yielded a $20 million award of “punitive damages” (the sole money remedy in Alabama for wrongful death), which the trial judge remitted to $4 million.

On appeal, the defendants complained that the absence of a compensatory award left them unprotected by federal due process, as they could not make a BMW v. Gore “ratio” argument.  This complaint was rejected by the Alabama Supreme Court, which refused to apply BMW v. Gore “formulaically,” noting that the punitive damages could be compared to the harm caused — i.e., the “great harm” of death.  The $4 million award was upheld in full.

Background:  Drake Law Firm

7 million popcorn lung

0

Penn sup ct — hrt punies thrown out

0

20 million girls gone wild

0

Florida appellate court upholds $13.3 million award to estate of deceased smoker

0

Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Cohen (Fla. App. Sept. 12, 2012).  Opinion by Judge Mark E. Polen

Opinion:  official; Leagle

The estate recovered a total of approximately $13.3 million in compensatory (all non-economic) damages from two tobacco companies, and $13.3 million in exemplary damages.  The appellate court sustained the amount of exemplary damages (subject to the resolution of a statute-of-repose issue on remand).

Robert S. Glazier for plaintiff.

Gordon James, III, for defendant.

Utah Supreme Court orders new trial of exemplary damages based on “harm to others” argument that violated procedural due process

0

Westgate Resorts, Ltd. v. Adel, 285 P.3d 1219 (Utah. Sept. 7, 2012).  Opinion by Justice Ronald E. Nehring

Opinion: Leagle, Justia

L. Rich Humpherys for plaintiff.

Michael D. Zimmerman for defendant.

Ohio asbestos 40 million thrown out

0

8th cir reduces tony alamo

0

New Mexico appellate court upholds $2 million award against eyeglass chain for conversion of patient records worth $300,000

0

Muncey v. Eyeglass World, LLC (NM App. Aug. 29, 2012).  Opinion here.  Opinion by Judge Jonathan B. Sutin.

Following the termination of an optometrist’s independent contractor relationship with an eyeglass chain, the optometrist sued the company for unauthorized conversion of his patient records.  Judgment was entered on a jury verdict for $300,000 in compensatory damages (what the company during discussions had agreed was the value of the patient records), and $2 million in exemplary damages — 6.6 times the compensatory damages.

On appeal, the court upheld the award in full, finding no federal due process violation.

Emil J. Kiehne for plaintiff.

Christopher P. Bauman for defendant.

1.5 million vs. lawyer “toothless cootie”

0

3.5 million 7th cir emp case

0

michigan false arrest

0

nassau 2 million gun shop

0

New Mexico appellate court upholds $10 million award against convenience store which allowed employee to drink on the job, causing fatal traffic accident

0

Estate of Gutierrez ex rel. Jaramillo v. Meteor Monument, LLC.  Opinion:  Justia.

Opinion by Judge James J. Wechsler

Exemplary damage award was in addition to compensatory damages award of $4.5 million.

Jacob G. Vigil for plaintiff

Pete V. Domenici, Jr., for defendant

400K for LA discrim vs. jews

0

Alabama appellate court upholds $30,000 award in business interference case, on $1 nominal damages

0

Engineered Cooling Services, Inc. v. Star Service, Inc. of Mobile (Ala. App. Aug. 10, 2012).  Opinion:  official; Leagle

Opinion by Judge Tommy Bryan

S. Russell Copeland for plaintiff

Forrest S. Latta for defendant

500 million vs. iran for 8 marines

0

7.5 million vs. doctor, skin died

0

300 million vs. iran for ass. of grandfather

0

6 million prempro vs. pfizer upheld pa inter ct

0

18 million agianst unioin carbide in la — baron & budd

0

UK competition court — punitives awarded

0

4 million hilton head false arrest

0

90 million sc nursing home case

0

U.S. Supreme Court stays judgment in Washington state case presenting ratio issue

0

Clausen v. Icicle Seafoods, Inc. (Wash. Mar.  15, 2012).  U.S. Supreme Court docket here.

Opinion:  official; Justia; Bloomberg; Findlaw

Case involves $1.3 million in punitive damages awarded in a maritime case by a Washington state jury, to an injured marine engineer who received only $37,000 in compensatory damages on the claim which carried punitive damages.  The jury’s punitive award was upheld in full by the Washington Supreme Court, which in its “ratio” analysis included the separate award of $450,000 in attorneys’ fees and costs as part of the denominator.

The petition for certiorari (here) argues that the attorneys’ fees and costs should not have have been included in the computation of the ratio.  Justice Kennedy, acting as Circuit Justice, issued a stay of the judgment pending disposition of the petition.  More detail from veteran Supreme Court journalist Lyle Denniston here.

Philip A. Talmadge for plaintiff.

Michael A. Barcott for defendant.

Update (8/2):  Plaintiff’s brief in opposition here.

Update (8/19):  Defendant’s reply here.

 Update (10/2):  Petition denied.

 

 

Florida appellate court upholds $26 million award to smoker in fraudulent concealment case

0

Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Naugle (Fla. App. June 22, 2012).  Opinion:  official; Findlaw

Opinion by JudgeMark E. Polen

Plaintiff, suffering from COPD, won a jury verdict totaling $52 million in compensatory (non-economic) damages and $244 million in exemplary damages.  Background:  New York Times; Findlaw.

Trial court remitted awards to $10 million and $26 million, respectively.  Appellate court affirmed, finding no federal due process violation.

Richard B. Rosenthal, Joel S. Perwin, Robert W. Kelley, John J. Uustal, and Todd R. McPharlin for plaintiff.

Gary L. Sasso, Andrew S. Brenner, and Stephen N. Zack for defendant.

aaron walker vs. brett kimberline

0

Tennessee appellate court upholds $4.25 million award in nursing home abuse case, 19 times the compensatory damages

0

McLemore v. Elizabethton Medical Investors (Tenn. App. June 22, 2012).  Decision.

Opinion by Judge Herschel Pickens Franks.  Background here.

Plaintiff sued a nursing home claiming its abuse and neglect of her husband had caused his death.  The jury awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages (remitted to $225,000 by the trial judge) and $4.25 million in exemplary damages (sustained by the trial judge).  The appellate court sustained the judgment in full, finding no federal due process flaw.  The court’s opinion reiterated the careful scrutiny of exemplary damages awards required under Tennessee law.

M. Chad Trammel, S. Drake Martin, Tony Seaton, and Brian G. Brooks for plaintiff.

Robert W. Dickson, Travis R. McDonough, Robert F. Parsley, Kevin D. Hudson, and Jade D. Dodds for defendant.

2 million vs. law firm upheld in fla

0

gm claims immune from puniies

0

3 million for defamation of a bat sanctuary

0

21 million jeh witness sex abuse

0

25 million ny steelworker racial harassment

0

4 million vs. kansas used-car dealership

0

massive cal harass verdict

0

West Virginia Supreme Court upholds $500,000 award in sexual harassment/hostile work environment case

0

CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Smith (W. Va. June 7, 2012).  Decision (official; Leagle).  Background: West Virginia Legal Record.

Per curiam opinion. Dissent by Chief Justice Menis E. Ketchum II

Exemplary award was on top of $1.5 million in compensatory damages.

Mark A. Atkinson, Paul L. Frampton, Jr., and Harry M. Hatfield for plaintiff.

Marc E. Williams, Melissa Foster Bird, and Jeremy C. Hodges for defendant.

4 million award for SC judge

0

awards — merrill brokers

0

denver 760K punitives racial harassment employment

0

SD beekeepers 1 million

0

conagra 180 million

0

1 million texas punitives

0

55 million fla tobacco

0

florida 55 million

0

Florida appellate court upholds $2 million award against law firm for breach of fiduciary duty to client

0

Young v. Becker & Poliakoff, P.A. (Fla. App. May 23, 2012) .

Decision:  official; Findlaw.  Background here.

Opinion by Judge Carole Y. Taylor.

Client in employment discrimination case sued her law firm, alleging it had breached its fiduciary duty to her by blowing the statute of limitations in her case, while entering into a side deal with the defendant during the settlement of other clients’ litigation against the defendant, designed to secure $2.9 million in fees.

Jury awarded $394,000 in compensatory damages and $4.5 million in exemplary damages, reduced to $2 million by the trial judge applying state law, in light of the defendant’s financial condition.

On review, the appellate court held that the remaining $2 million in exemplary damages (more than five times the compensatories) did not violate federal due process.

Craig R. Zobel and Steven M. Pincus for plaintiff.

Bruce S. Rogow and Cynthia E. Gunther for defendant.

300 million vs. syria and iran

0

Missouri appellate court upholds $150,000 award, on $1 actual damages, in business defamation case

0

The Fireworks Restoration Co., LLC v. Hosto (Mo. App. May 9, 2012).

Decision:  official; Leagle; Findlaw.  Background:  Eric Goldman; Mike Mintz; Travis Crabtree.

Opinion by Judge Roy L. Richter.

Following a falling out with his co-founder of a business, the defendant fabricated negative customer reviews of the business which he posted on the internet.  The target sued, ultimately uncovering the defendant’s identity.  Despite the 150,000-to-1 ratio, the appellate court ruled against defendant’s federal due process argument, rejecting “any rigid benchmarks or bright line tests.”

Bradley J. Bakula for plaintiff.

Danna McKitrick, David R. Bohm, David A. Zobel for defendant.

muslim women 5 million

0

hustler — no punies on nude photos

0

hess punies vacated — repose

0

Arizona appellate court rejects $55 million award in first-party insurance bad faith case; upholds only $155,000

0

Nardelli v. Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Ins. Co. (Ariz. App. May 1, 2012).

Decision:  official; Leagle; Findlaw.  Background:  Amanda M. Lorenz & Alacia G. Curran; Robert D. Helfand.

Opinion by Judge Patricia K. Norris.  Concurrence in part / dissent in part by Judge Peter B. Swann (concluding defendant should not be held liable for any exemplary damages).

Plaintiffs’ new Ford Explorer was stolen in Mexico, and ultimately found trashed, with a ruined engine.  Rather than simply replacing the vehicle, their insurer tried to resolve the claim with false reports that the vehicle could be repaired for as little as $815.  At trial, the plaintiffs presented evidence that the bad-faith handling of their claim file was part of the insurer’s official policy of boosting profits by pressuring adjusters to arbitrarily cap claim payouts.

The jury awarded $155,000 in compensatory damages and $55 million in exemplary damages, reduced by the trial judge to $620,000 (4-to-1 ratio).  The plaintiffs asked the appellate court to increase it to at least $10 million.  Instead, the appellate court further reduced it, to $155,000 (1-to-1 ratio).

Steve C. Dawson, Anita Rosenthal and Richard A. Dillenburg for plaintiffs.

Floyd P. Bienstock, Bennett Evan Cooper, Douglas Janicik and Tim Strong for defendant.

ohio … cap

0

$54 million award in insurance bad faith case slashed to $155,000 by Arizona appellate court

0

Nardelli v. Metro. Group Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co(Ariz. App. May 1, 2012).  Court sets award at a 4-to-1 ratio to compensatory damages.

Steven C. Dawson of Dawson & Rosenthal for plaintiffs.

Richard A. Dillenburg for defendants.

Decision here.

Update (11/16/2012):  Commentary by attorney Nathan D. Meyer here.

1.5 million award GGW

0

dr pepper age discrim

0

California appellate court upholds $4.5 million jury award in asbestos personal injury case

0

Bankhead v. ArvinMeritor, Inc. (Cal. App. Apr. 19, 2012)

Decision:  official; Findlaw

Opinion by Presiding Justice Ignazio (“Nace”) John Ruvolo

Background:  Burnham BrownShaun Martin.  http://legalnewsline.com/news/236027-cal…

 http://www.metnews.com/articles/2012/arv…

Defendant manufactured brakepads using asbestos for decades without warning those using them of the hazard.  As a result plaintiff Gordon Bankhead, an auto mechanic, due to his asbestos exposure developed mesothelioma.  The jury verdict held defendant liable for $1.8 million in compensatory damages and $4.5 million in exemplary damages, despite defendant’s claims that it had a negative net worth.  The appellate court sustained the verdict in full.

James L. Oberman, Gloria C. Amell, and Michael T. Stewart for plaintiffs.

David K. Schultz, Frank K. Berfield, Lisa L. Oberg, John J. Lyons, Milton A. Miller, and David E. Jang, for defendant.

Update (___):  Review denied by California Supreme Court.  See here and here.

4.5 million bankhead upheld

0

3 million st. louis rape

0

1 million whistleblower

0

$32 million award in Montana federal court for elderly woman cheated out of insurance benefits

0

5 million cap by profit

0

72 million florida tobb verdict thrown out

0

$3.1 million award against Wells Fargo by Louisiana federal judge, for mortgage servicing misconduct

0

214 million vs. sudan for uss cole

0

$1.2 million award by New York City jury to lesbian chef forced to “pray away the gay”

0

Nevada Supreme Court reduces award in conversion case from $300,000 to $125,000

0

Exposure Graphics v. Rapid Mounting Display (Nev. Mar. 29, 2012)

Decision:  official.

Opinion by

$1.8 million award by South Carolina federal jury in public nuisance case

0

$1.67 billion award against Iran

0

$3 million award to Hawaii couple subject to campaign of intimidation by their condo association

0

police shooting 1 million

0

Kentucky appellate court upholds $6 million award for sexual abuse of an 11-year-old girl

0

R.O. v. A.C. ex rel. M.C. (Ky. App. Mar. 23, 2012)

Decision:  original; Findlaw

Opinion by Chief Judge Glenn E. Acree

Exemplary damages were on top of $2 million in non-economic (emotional distress) damages, and a $41,000 recovery of medical expenses.

Robert L. Prince for plaintiff

Dennis L. Null, Jr., for defendant

 

 

Nevada Supreme Court upholds $100,000 award against landowners who refused to remove trees whose roots damaged neighbor’s property

0

Prestige of Beverly Hills, Inc. v. Weber (Nev. Mar. 21, 2012).

Unpublished decision:  official

Plaintiff’s property was damaged by tree roots originating from defendant’s property.  Defendant refused to rectify the problem despite complaints spanning a decade.  After plaintiff won summary judgment, the trial judge awarded $100,000 in punitive damages, on top of $28,000 in compensatory damages and $82,000 in fees and costs.  The Nevada Supreme Court affirmed, finding punitive damages appropriate, and the amount not constitutionally excessive.

 

5.2 million oregon trucking company negligent hiring

0

1 million connecticut retaliation fed court

0

8 million to eldersly CA guy whose 220K home destroyed — bad faith

0

California appellate court rejects argument that juries should be charged about “ratio” caps

0

Yong Pyo Hong v. Life University (Cal. App. Mar. 15, 2012)

Unpublished decision:  Leagle.

Opinion by Justice Jeffrey W. Johnson

Plaintiff, a whistleblower fired as a professor at a diploma mill, sued the “university” for conversion of his books, articles, and course materials.  He recovered $88,000 in compensatory damages against the university, and punitive damages against two individually named defendants:  $50,000 against one (on $11,000 compensatories) and $6,000 against another (on $1,000 compensatories).  The appellate court rejected the individual defendants’ argument that the jury should have been charged that punitives damages must be capped at a 1-to-1 ratio to compensatory damages.

Henry M. Lee and Jason Chong for plaintiff

Davis S. Kim and Samuel Yu for defendants.

 

mental health agency 1.3 million oklahoma

0

Washington Supreme Court upholds $1.3 million award to injured engineer in maritime case

0

Clausen v. Icicle Seafoods, Inc. (Wash. Mar. 15, 2012)

Decision:  Justia; Findlaw.  Background:  Maritime Northern Blog

Opinion by Associate Chief Justice Charles W. Johnson.  Dissent by Justice James M. Johnson, joined by Justice Gerry L. Alexander

Engineer on a ship suffered serious injuries while lifting a 122-pound piece of steel.  In a Jones Act case filed in Washington state court against the ship owner, he recovered $450,000 in compensatory damages for his injuries, $37,000 in compensatory damages which had not been timely paid for maintenance and cure, and $1.3 million in punitive damages for the willful misconduct of not timely paying for maintenance and cure.  He was also awarded $428,000 in fees and costs.

The Washington Supreme Court affirmed in full.  As to the exemplary damages tied to the maintenance-and-cure recovery, which were 35 times the wrongfully withheld money, the court held that they were justified, and not a violation of federal due process, based on deterrence.

Philip Albert Talmadge, James P. Jacobsen, and Lawrence N. Curtis for plaintiff

Michael Alan Barcott, Thaddeus O’Sullivan, Megan Elizabeth Blomquist for defendant.

Lincoln Dennis Sieler, David W. Robertson, for Amicus Curiae Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific

125 million sex harassment in hospital

0

130 million nuring home

0

25 million oregon schwarz

0

1.4 million punitives

0

5 million the game

0

25 million alexander

0

168 million sacramento sex harassment

0

15 million real estate fraud

0

Kentucky appellate court invalidates 56-to-1 ratio involving fraud by a commercial mortgage company

0

Aaron Mortgage Co. v. KDS Properties, Inc. (Ky. App. Mar. 2, 2012)

Decision:  official; Leagle.

Opinion by Judge Sara Walter Combs.

Plaintiff, a commercial property owner, sued a mortgage company after false representations that a mortgage had been secured led to its loss of a property.  The jury awarded $1250 in compensatory damages and $70,000 in exemplary damages.  The appellate court found this amount grossly excessive in light of the 56-to-1 ratio and the relatively low reprehensibility involved, and remanded for a new trial on the amount of exemplary damages.

James H. Moore, III, for plaintiff.

Christopher A. Dawson for appellant.

kentucky 1.45 million baptist criminal

0

85 million bratz

0

6 million boating pubs

0

2.5 million vs. joe francis for wynn

0

2.5 million infected pigws

0

5 million louisevile — nursing home

0

22 mass punies delay

0

40M held excessive in townsend fla

0

sc uphold 2 million

0

half million punies kicked out for sex offenders

0

Nickersen — shernoff intv

0

10 million child sexual abuse

0

1 million scrwed on house

0

blog on nursing home punies

0

Garth Brooks

0

1 million cal reversed, no evidence finance

0

1.5 million fla case

0

5 mill ny investment fraud

0

Missouri Supreme Court upholds 100-to-1 ratio in consumer fraud case

0

Estate of Max E. Overbey v. Chad Franklin National Auto Sales North, LLC (Mo. Jan. 31, 2012)

Decision: official.  Background here and here.

Opinion by Justice Laura Denvir Smith; dissent by Chief Justice Richard B. Teitelman, joined by Justice George W. Draper III.

Husband and wife were fraudulently induced to purchase a motor vehicle, sued, and recovered $4,500 in compensatory damages and $1 million in exemplary damages, reduced to $500,000 by the trial judge pursuant to a tort-reform damages cap.  The Missouri Supreme Court held that the $500,000 did not violate federal due process.  It also rejected the plaintiffs’ state constitutional challenge to the damages cap.

Douglass F. Noland and Thomas K. Mendel for plaintiffs.

Patric S. Linden and Kevin D. Case for defendants.

 

missouri — 500K on 4500 comp

0

35 million TD bank rothstein

0

2.5 million fla verdict

0

il 10 million asbestos ILL

0

22 million inmate

0

California appellate court open to exemplary damages keyed to the benefit wrongfully obtained by defendant

0

Starrh and Starrh Cotton Growers v. Aera Energy LLC (Cal. App. Jan. 25, 2012)

Unpublished decision:  original; Findlaw

Opinion by Rebecca A. Wiseman

Ralph B. Wegis and Michael J. Stump for plaintiff.

Stephen M. Kristovich, Patrick J. Cafferty, Jr. Michael R. Barsa and Patrick J. Osborn for defendants.

Garth Brooks

0

Propofol — millions

0

GA — 10 million vs. hosp8ital

0

courtney rosenberg

0

1 MILLION TO surgeons defeamed on internet

0

140 million fla nursing home

0

HESS — W. Va. — 56 million

0

28 million prempro

0

Pennsylvania appellate court reinstates full exemplary award slashed by trial court

0

Kendall v. Wyeth, Inc. (Jan. 3, 2012)

Decision:  official

Opinion by Presiding Justice Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) case in which plaintiff sued Wyeth and Upjohn and obtained a total of $6.3 million in damages and $28 million in exemplary damages ($16 million against Wyeth and $12 million against Upjohn).  The trial judge remitted the total exemplary damages to $1 million.  On federal due process review, the appellate court reinstated the full $28 million exemplary damages award.

Pennsylvania appellate court increases exemplary award beyond amount permitted by trial court

0

Barton v. Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Pa. App. Jan. 3, 2012)

Decision: official

Opinion by Presiding Justice Emeritus Kate Ford Elliott

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) case in which plaintiff sued Wyeth and obtained $3.7 million in compensatory damages and $75 million in exemplary damages, remitted by the trial judge to $5.6 million (1.5 times compensatories).  On federal due process review, the appellate court held the trial court had erred in reducing the award too much, and raised the amount to $7.5 million (twice compensatories).

 

1.2 million kansas mislead women

0

Texas appellate court rejects 1-to-1 ratio cap in abuse of process/defamation case

0

Pitts v. Collard, LLP v. Schechter (Tex. App. Dec. 29, 2011)

Decision:  Leagle; Findlaw

Opinion by Justice Michael C. Massengale

Plaintiff attorney sued defendant attorney for abuse of process and defamation, receiving $101,000 in compensatory damages and $300,000 in exemplary damages, remitted to $200,000 under a damages cap.  Appellate court sustained award in full, rejecting defendant’s argument that a 1-to-1 ratio should apply.

David T. Moran, Charles L. Babcock, Lori J. Lamoreaux, and Steven Wayne Smith

Dale Jefferson, Levon G. Hovnatanian, Bruce E. Ramage, and Raul H. Suazo for defendant

4 million to 2 million legal malpractice

0

48 million — ark cap knocked down

0

California appellate court sustains $450,000 in exemplary damages for defamation, 10 times the compensatory award

0

Sunkist Enterprises Corp. v. Mahmood (Cal. App. Dec. 12, 2011)

Decision:  official; Leagle

Opinion by Presiding Justice William R. McGuiness

Plaintiff sued his uncle for defamation, recovering $60,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in exemplary damages.  The trial court remitted the amounts to $45,000 and $450,000 (10-to-1 ratio).  The appellate court affirmed.

George Paul Eshoo for plaintiff.

Mark Alan Olson for defendant.

17 million ripoff pen

0

Arkansas Supreme Court strikes down statutory cap on exemplary damages, upholding $42 million award

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Bayer CropScience LP v. Schafer (Ark. Dec. 8, 2011)

Decision:  official; Leagle

Opinion by Justice Courtney Hudson Goodson

Exemplary damages were on top of $6 million in compensatory damages, for the defendant’s negligent contamination of the domestic rice supply with its genetically modified strains, harming the marketability of plaintiffs’ crops.  The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld the $42 million award without deciding defendants’ excessiveness arguments (which it found waived because they were not included in the notice of appeal).

John Paul Byrd, Scott A. Powell, Don McKenna, and Bruce J. McKee for plaintiffs.

Gordon Smeade Rather JR., Edwin L. Lowther Jr., Scott Andrew Irby, and Gary D. Marts, Jr., for defendants.

Update (5/15/2012):  William S.W. Chang

California appellate court affirms $440,000 award for real estate foreclosure scam

0

Ning Liu v. Wong (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 2011)

Decision:  Leagle

Opinion by Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline

Exemplary award was on top of $115,000 in compensatory damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Arthur Junguo Liu for plaintiff

Steven Franklyn Helfand for defendant

bullock upheld

0

7.5 million property tort intf TX

0

Texas appellate court sustains $750,000 in exemplary damages for defamation

0

Burbabe v. Burbage (Tex. App. Dec. 21, 2011)

Decision:  official; Leagle; Findlaw

Opinion by Justice Jeff L. Rose

Gregory S. Cagle for plaintiff.

Jason P. Steed, James J. Scheske, David C. Lawrence, and Peter D. Kennedy for defendant.

Plaintiff sued his brother for defamation, receiving $3.8 million compensatory damages and $5.8 million in exemplary damages.  The appellate court reduced the exemplary damages to $750,000 as required by a state-law damages cap, and held that this amount did not violate federal due process.

Ohio appellate court upholds $5.8 million award for tortious interference

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Innovative Technologies Corp. v. Advanced Mgt. Technology, Inc. (Ohio App. Oct. 28, 2011)

Decision:  official; Leagle

Opinion by Judge Mary E. Donovan

Plaintiff, a military contractor, sued a competitor for tortious interference involving its unfair winning of a government contract.  It recovered $2 million in compensatory damages (remitted from $5.75 million) and $5.8 million in exemplary damages (remitted from $17 million).  The award was affirmed, the appellate court finding no federal due process nor state-law excessiveness problem.

James A. Dyer, Michael P. Moloney, Heather Duffey Welbaum, and Catharine D. Kidd for plaintiff.

Brad S. Sullivan and David C. Greer for defendant.

California appellate court upholds $80,000 award, and 3.5-to-1 ratio, for property enroachment

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Hardie v. Wizard Gaming, Inc. (Cal. App. Oct. 19, 2011)

Decision:  Leagle

Opinion by Justice Jennifer R.S. Detjen

Exemplary award was on top of $33,000 in compensatory damages.

William H. Slocumb and Christopher T. Reid for plaintiff

Lewis Brisbois, Jeffry A. Miller and Matthew B. Stucky for defendants

 

 

California appellate court upholds $7 million award to fired salesman whose personal laptop was tampered with by company

0

Trealoff v. Forest River, Inc. (Cal. App. Oct. 6, 2011)

Decision: officialLeagle.  Background here and here.

Opinion by Justice Thomas E. Hollenhorst

Successful RV salesman was fired by the defendant, which as part of the firing seized his personal laptop  for several hours and deleted and/or copied huge numbers of files thought to be connected to his work.  The salesman sued for conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and fraud (related in part to the company having cheated him out of past commissions).  He recovered $2.55 million in compensatory damages, $1 million in attorneys’ fees, and $7 million in exemplary damages (remitted from $15 million).  The appellate court upheld the exemplary award as not excessive.

Brian J. Hennigan, Joseph M. Lipner, and Mark A. Kressel for plaintiff

George S. Howard, Jr.,  Brian M. Hoffstadt, Erica L. Reilley, and Michaesl C. Terrell for defendants

Alabama appellate court upholds $310,000 award for defamation, on nominal damages, against federal due process challenge

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Tanner v. Ebbole (Ala. App. Sept. 23, 2011)

Decision: official; Leagle; Findlaw.  Background:  Eric Goldman

Opinion by Judge Craig Sorrell Pittman

A well-established tattoo artist was subjected to a campaign of slander and libel by profit-motivated startup competitors who falsely told consumers she had a variety of communicable diseases, and used unsafe practices putting her customers at risk.  She recovered nominal damages against three defendants, and a total of $310,000 in exemplary damages. All of the exemplary awards were upheld against a federal due process attack, though one of the awards was reduced from $200,000 to $50,000 under a state damages cap favoring small businesses.

Robert E. Clute, Jr., and Neil L. Hanley for plaintiff

Patrick Collins and Derek C. S. Rose for defendants

Massachusetts trial court upholds $81 million against tobacco company

0

Evans v. Lorillard Tobacco Co. (Ma. Super. Ct. Sept. 2, 2011)

Decision:  2011 WL 7860229 (PDF here)

Opinion by Justice Elizabeth M. Fahey

Wrongful death action brought on behalf of a deceased smoker.  Trial court upheld $35 million in compensatory damages (remitted from $71 million) and the full $81 million in exemplary damages awarded by the jury.

Update:  Further ordered entered by the trial court on Sept. 2, 2011.   Decision:  Findlaw.  Background:  Boston GlobeDavis Malm

Connecticut appellate court upholds 6-to-1 ratio in business tort case

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Bridgeport Harbour Place I, LLC v. Ganim (Conn. App. Aug 30, 2011)

Decision:  official; Findlaw

Opinion by Judge Douglas S. Lavine

Plaintiff developer sued other developers, claiming they had conspired to bribe municipal officials to tortiously interfere with plaintiff’s project.  Plaintiff received a jury-awarded $20,000 in compensatory damages and a judge-awarded $120,000 in exemplary damages, which were affirmed on appeal.

William F. Gallagher, William J. Sweeney, and R. Bartley Halloran for plaintiff.

Jeffrey J. Mirman, John F. Droney, Jr., Kurt F. Zillermann, Leonard K. Atkinson, Ira B. Brudberg, C. Christian Young, Trisha M. Morris, Allison M. Near, and Thomas L, Kanasky, Jr., for defendants.

Update (12/15/2011):  Affirmance by the Connecticut Supreme Court, on review of a different issues in case.  Decision:  Leagle

South Carolina appellate court upholds 8-to-1 ratio for bank’s negligent failure to protect trust beneficiary

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Cody P. v. Bank of America, N.A. (S.C. App. Aug. 23, 2011)

Decision:  Findlaw.  Background:  Clayton Gillette

Opinion by Judge James E. Lockemy

Minor boy’s father died in a work accident.  His aunt was appointed conservator of $252,000 in life insurance proceeds, pursuant to an order requiring probate court approval of all disbursements of bank withdrawals.  The defendant bank negligently enabled the aunt to raid all the money by making withdrawals not approved by the court.

The boy sued the bank, alleging it breached its duty to honor the court order.  He received $205,000 in actual damages and — based on a finding that the bank’s negligence was willful, wanton, or reckless — $1.6 million in exemplary damages.  The bank’s federal due process and other arguments were rejected on appeal.

W.E. Jenkinson, III, Jennifer R. Kellahan, and Ronnie A. Sabb for plaintiff.

C. Mitchell Brown, Clarence Davis, T. William McGee, III, and A. Mattison Bogan for defendant.

California appellate court upholds $13.8 million award in tobacco case

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Bullock v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. (Cal. App. Aug. 17, 2011)

Decision:  originalLeagle; Findlaw.

Opinion by Justice H. Walter Croskey; dissent by Justice Patti S. Kitching

Plaintiff smoked Philip Morris cigarettes for decades, leading to her death from lung cancer.  Before dying, a jury awarded her $850,000 in compensatory damages and $28 billion in exemplary damages.  Due to federal due process issues raised by the jury instructions, a new trial was granted on exemplary damages.  The second jury awarded her $13.8 million, which the trial and appellate courts affirmed.  The dissent would have capped exemplary damages at a 9-to-1 ratio to compensatory damages.

Michael J. Piuze and Kenneth Chesebro for plaintiff.

Frank P. Kelly, Lauren R. Goldman, Ronald C. Redcay, and E. Alex Beroukhim for defendant

Fred J. Hiestand for the Civil Justice Association of California as amicus curiae on behalf of defendant

South Carolina appellate court upholds $2 million against developer for trespass/nuisance affecting adjoining land

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Hollis v. Stonington Development, LLC (S.C. App. Aug. 17, 2011)

Decision:  official; Findlaw

Opinion by Chief Judge John C. Few

Plaintiffs owned 19 acres of rural land which had been in their family for generations.   Defendant developer, located upstream, caused several flooding problems on their property over a five-year period, violation numerous regulations in the process, and misleading plaintiffs regarding its intentions regarding a solution to the problems.  It did so to benefit its own property, declining to negotiate with plaintiffs to obtain the right to flood their property.

Plaintiffs proved that the cost of restoring their property was $255,000, and that they had incurred other expenses and had loss-of-use damages.  They recovered $400,000 in actual damages (reduced to $315,000 as a setoff, to account for monies paid by other, settling defendants) and $3.5 million in exemplary damages.

On appeal, the court found that the $3.5 million award was constitutionally excessive, and remitted it to $2 million — 5 times the actual damages — which it held was the highest amount supported by the record.

H. Freeman Belser and Clinch H. Belser, Jr., for plaintiff.

Timothy G. Quinn for defendant.

Iowa appellate court upholds exemplary award against fraud co-defendant not held liable for any actual damages

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Wells Fargo Bank, National Ass’n v. Continuous Control Solutions, Inc.

Unpublished decision:  original.  Background:  Doug BateyThomas Rutledge; Marc Ward

Opinion by Judge Amanda Potterfield; dissent (partial) by Judge Mary Tabor

Todd A. Strother and Timothy N. Lillwitz for plaintiffs.

Stanley J. Thompson, David J. Butler, and Bryan M. Killian for defendants

Massachusetts trial court upholds 18-to-1 ratio for retaliation against employee who filed discrimination complaint

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Brown v. Office of Com’r of Probation (Mass. Superior Ct. July 5, 2011)

Decision:  28 Mass. L. Rptr. 549 (PDF here)

Opinion by:  Justice Paul Troy

Employee of state probation office sued state for alleged gender discrimination, and for retaliating for filing a discrimination claim.  The jury rejected her discrimination claim but accepted her retaliation claim, awarding $6,000 in compensatory damages and $500,000 in exemplary damages — 83 times the compensatories.  The trial judge remitted the exemplary award to $108,000 — 18 times the compensatories.

D.C. appellate court upholds $43,000 exemplary award for retaliation/defamation, on $1 nominal damages

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Howard University v. Wilkins (D.C. App. June 30, 2011)

Decision:  original

Opinion by Judge Inez Smith Reid

University hospital employee sued university claiming she’d been terminated in retaliation for filing a sexual harassment claim.  The jury found for her and awarded $1 in nominal damages and $42,677 in exemplary damages.  The appellate court affirmed, seeing no reason to disturb the verdict.

 

Texas appellate court denied exemplary damages for trespass absent an award of actual damages

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RDG Partnership v. Long (Tex. App. June 22, 2011)

Decision:  Findlaw

Opinion by Chief Justice Catherine M. Stone

Bennett L. Stahl, James N. Johnson, for plaintiff.

Adam Poncio, Ronald J. Shaw, David S. Morris, Craig T. Enoch, for defendant

Texas appellate court upholds $85,000 award to libeled physician

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Hancock v. Variyam (June 16, 2011)

Decision:  official.  Background here.

Opinion by Justice Patrick A. Pirtle

Award was on top of $90,000 in compensatory damages.

Update:  Texas Supreme Court granted review on August 17, 2012.  Docket here.

Colorado Supreme Court upholds $18 exemplary award for telephone company’s failure to inspect poles, causing employee’s death

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Qwest Services Corp. v. Blood (Colo. May 23, 2011)

Decision:  official; Colorado Bar Ass’n; Findlaw.  Background:  Denver Post; Matthew Spengler

Opinion by Justice Alex Martinez; dissent by Justice Allison H. Eid, joined by Justice Nancy E. Rice

Award on top of $21.6 million in compensatory damages.

William L. Keating, Michael O’Brien Keating, Richard A. Westfall and Peter J. Krumholz for plaintiffs.

Gregory J. Kerwin, Robert C. Marshall, Frederick R. Yarger, Thomas N. Alfrey, Robert J. Zavaglia, Jr., for defendants.

John W. Suthers, Daniel D. Domenico, and Megan Paris Rundlet for amicus curiae State of Colorado

Andre Mura and Thomas D. Neville for amicus curiae American Association for Justice

Malcolm E. Wheeler and Evan M. Tager for amicus curaie Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America

James D. Johnson for amicus curiae Colorado Defense Lawyers Association

Ohio appellate court upholds $7 million award to employee for retaliatory discharge

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Luri v. Republic Services, Inc. (Ohio App. May 19, 2011)

Decision:  original; Leagle.  Background here and here.

Opinion by Justice Frank D. Celebrezze.  Dissent (in part) by Administrative Judge Mary Eileen Kilbane

Plaintiff, a manager at a company, sued for retaliatory discharge when he was fired for refusing to fire an employee who had a medical disability.  The jury awarded $3.5 million in compensatory damages; $43 million in exemplary damages; and more than $1 million in attorneys’ fees.

The appellate court remitted the exemplary award to $7 million, as required by a state damages cap, and held that this amount comported with federal due process.

Shannon J. Polk, Richard C. Haber, Irene C. Keyse-Walker, Benjamin C. Sasse, and Michelle Pierce Stronczer for plaintiffs.

Stephen P. Anway and Robin G. Weaver for defendants.

Update:  decision reversed regarding the proper application of the state damages cap.  Decision here.  Background here and here.

California appellate court permits 4-to-1 ratio for not-especially-reprehensible elder abuse

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Miller v. Faiz (Cal. App. Apr. 13, 2011)

Decision:  Leagle (modification)

Opinion by Acting President Justice Rylaarsdam

Following death of elderly nursing home patient, his daughter sued the facility for elder abuse.  The jury awarded $30,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in exemplary damages, which were reduced to $125,000 on appeal in light of the relatively low reprehensibility involved.

Neil Pederson and Teresa A. McQueen for plaintiff.

Thomas E. Beach, Andrew K. Whitman, and Amy J. Cooper for defendant.

Pennsylvania trial court upholds $1.5 million award for nursing home abuse

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Blango v. Jeanes Hospital, Inc. (Pa. App. April 12, 2011)

Decision:  2011 WL 8633648 (PDF here).  Background:  Leon Aussprung; Philly.com

Opinion by Judge George W. Overton

Plaintiff sued a nursing home and hospital alleging they mistreated her husband, who had died while under their care.  The jury awarded $1 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in exemplary damages, which the trial court remitted to $1.5 million.  On appeal the court found no constitutional problem with the award.

 

Texas appellate court upholds 66-to-1 ratio against driving school that failed to stop male instructors from acting inappropriately with minor females

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Wansey v. Hole (Tex. App. Apr. 7, 2011)

Decision:  Justia

Opinion by Justice Rodriguez

Parents sued driving school after the discovered their daughter with a male instructor in a suspicious and compromising position after a class.  The school had a history of male instructors acting inappropriately with minor females.  They recovered $225 in compensatory damages (tuition refund) and $15,000 in exemplary damages, which was upheld on appeal.

I. Cecilia Garza for plaintiff.

William L. Hubbard for defendant.

Update:  Judgment reversed by Texas Supreme Court based on state-law ground.  Decision:  official; Findlaw

Louisiana Supreme Court rules trial court erred in finding $65 million award excessive

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Wooley v. Lucksinger (La. Apr. 1, 2011)

Decision:  original;

Opinion by Justice Clark; concurrence by Justice Weirner

Liquidator of insolvent HMO sued the seller of the HMO for breach of fiduciary duty and other wrongful acts.  The jury awarded $44.5 million in compensatory damages (cut 15% by the trial judge to account for liability by other entities) and $65 in exemplary damages (cut 30% by the trial judge).  On review the Louisiana Supreme Court held that the trial judge had erred in reducing the exemplary damages, as they were not constitutionally excessive.

Texas appellate court caps award in action against attorney at 1-to-1 ratio

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Hernandez v. Sovereign Cherokee Nation Tejas (Tex. App. Mar. 31, 2011)

Decision:  Justia

Opinion by Judge Martin Richter

William Lewis Sessions for plaintiff.

Charles W. McGarry for defendant.

Illinois appellate court reverses trial court for reducing award from $1.75 million to $1.1 million

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Lawlor v. North American Corp. of Illinois (Ill. App. Mar. 24, 2011)

Decision:  Leagle; Findlaw

Opinion by Justice Lavin

Plaintiff, a salesperson at a graphics company, resigned and accepted a position with a competitor.  She sued the company for invasion of privacy after she learned that as part of an investigation into whether she had breached her fiduciary duty of loyalty, the company had hired an investigation firm which unlawfully obtained her personal telephone records.  The jury awarded $65,000 in compensatory damages and $1.75 million in exemplary damages, remitted by the trial judge down to $650,000 (10-to-1 ratio).

On review, the intermediate appellate court held that the trial court had abused its discretion in disturbing the jury’s verdict, and reinstated it in full (holding in the process that the verdict did not violate federal due process).

Background:  Northern Law Blog

Mitchell B. Katten, Nancy A. Temple, Joshua R. Diller for plaintiff.

Eric N. Macey, Steven J. Ciszewski and Julie Johnston-Ahien for Defendant.

Update:  On further review, the Illinois Supreme Court cut the exemplary damages award to $65,000 (1-to-1 ratio) using the common-law remittitur, not federal due process.  See here.

New Jersey appellate court upholds $2.5 million award in age discrimination case

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Saffos v. Avaya Inc. (N.J. App. Mar. 8, 2011)

Decision: official; Leagle; Findlaw.  Background:  Bruce D. Greenberg

Opinion by J.A.D. Miniman

After plaintiff, age 49, was fired and replaced by a much-less-qualified employee age 35, he sued for age discrimination.  The jury awarded $742,000 in compensatory damages and — in light of evidence that the firing was part of an elaborate corporate scheme for “papering” older employees with false, negative work reviews so as to fire them while minimizing the risk of liability for doing so — $10 million in exemplary damages.  The trial court reduced the exemplary award to $3.7 million (5-to-1 ratio).  The appellate court invoked federal due process to further reduce the award, to $2.5 million (3.3-to-1 ratio).

Patricia Breuninger, Susan B. Fellman, and Kathleen P. Ramalho for plaintiff.

Kevin C. Donovan, Caitlin J. Halligan, Gregory Silbert for defendants.

South Carolina appellate court upholds $5 million award against class action attorney, for slander of opposing party

0

Limehouse v. Hulsey (S.C. App. Mar. 10, 2011)

Decision:  official; Findlaw.  Background:  Charleston Post & Courier.

Opinion by Judge Thomas; dissent (on limited procedural grounds) by Chief Justice Few

Plaintiff ran a staffing agency with his son.  Both were defendants in a civil RICO class action.  During the litigation, opposing counsel repeatedly accused him of organized-crime activity, likening him to Tony Soprano, and accused him of engaging in an indentured servitude scheme.  In response plaintiff sued for slander.  The jury awarded $2.4 million in compensatory damages and $5 million in exemplary damages.  On appeal the award was affirmed in full.

California appellate court upholds $2.75 million award against man who transmitted genital herpes to girlfriend

0

Behr v. Redmond (Cal. App. Mar. 2, 2011)

Decision:  official.   Background:  Justice Steven Vartabedian (Ret.); Matthew Heller

Opinion by Justice King

Plaintiff sued former boyfriend, obtaining a jury award of $4 million in compensatory damages and $2.8 million in exemplary damages.  The appellate court found the compensatory verdict excessive, remitting it to $1.6 million, but upheld the exemplary award in full.

David Paron and Paul D. Herbert for plaintiff

Robert M. Frisbee, Kent L. Richland, Robin Meadow and Michael Anthony Brown for defendant.

Arkansas appellate court upholds $12 million award against Holiday Inn for fraud in its denial of a franchise time extension

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Holiday Inn Franchising, Inc. v. Hotel Associates, Inc. (Ark. App. 2011)

Decision:  original; Leagle

Opinion by Judge Raymond M. Abramson

Plaintiff, a long-time Holiday Inn franchisee, spent $3 million on hotel renovations in anticipation of a routine renewal of its franchise.  While this money was being spent, Holiday Inn failed to disclose that some of its franchising employees were seeking to have the franchise awarded to another company (in part to earn a commission).  The disappointed franchisee sued Holiday Inn for fraud.  It recovered $13 million in compensatory damages (reduced by the trial judge to $10 million) and $12 million in exemplary damages (upheld by the trial judge under state law, but reduced to $1 million on federal due process review).

On appeal, the court reversed the trial judge’s federal due process holding and reinstated the $12 million award in its entirety.

Timothy Oliver Dudley for plaintiff.

Peter Gray Kumpe, Nathan M. Norton, Jr., Jess Askew III, Jay Mark Davis, Gardy D. Marts, Jr., and Jamie Kel Fugitt for defendants.

California appellate court upholds 8-to-1 ratio for award against landlord who cheated tenants out of security deposits

0

Alcoser v. Thomas (Cal. App. Feb. 16, 2011)

Decision:   original.  Background:  Barry Senders Willdorf

Opinion by Justice Dondero

In class action by tenants against a landlord who was proven to have regularly cheated his tenants out of their security deposits, plaintiffs won $130,000 in compensatory damages and $1 million in exemplary damages (remitted by the trial judge from $5.5 million).  Award affirmed on appeal; appellate court did not find 8-to-1 ratio constitutionally problematic.

Aram Antaramian, Richard Morse Pearl, and Barry Senders Willdorf for plaintiffs

Ronald David Schivo for defendant

Arkansas Supreme Court upholds $15 million award against insurance company for defaming physician

0

Allstate Insurance Co. v. Dodson (Jan. 27, 2011)

Decision:  original.  Background:  Arkansas Court Bulletin; Brandon L. Clark

Opinion by Justice Robert L. Brown; dissent by Chief Justice Jim Hannah, joined by Justice Corbin

Insurance company represented to a physicians patients, and to personal injury lawyers, that the physician was fraudulently using unlicensed people to perform physical therapy, and committing other unlawful acts.  He sued for defamation (and tortious interference).  The jury awarded $6 million in compensatory damages and $15 million in exemplary damages, which the trial judge remitted to $6 million (1-to-1 ratio).

On appeal, the Arkansas Supreme Court reinstated the full exemplary award, finding no federal due process problem with it.

David M. Hargis for plaintiff

Ronald D. Getchey, Philip E. Kaplan, JoAnn C. Maxey and Jamie K. Fugitt for defendant

 

Iowa appellate court upholds $1 million award for commercial insurance bad faith

0

Deters v. USF Insurance Co. (Iowa App. 2011)

Decision:  original.

Citing technicalities in insurance language later found by the jury to be objectively and subjectively baseless, an insurance company refused to pay under a commercial insurance company for the death of an executive and two employees who fell to their deaths while doing maintenance work on a TV tower.  Trial court and appellate courts sustained the jury’s $1 million exemplary award given that actual or potential harm to insured ranged somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million, and perhaps higher.

Opinion by Presiding Judge Eisenhauer

Michael S. Jones and Benjamin R. Merrill for plaintiff

Mark McCormick and Margaret C. Callahan for defendant

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