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Miriam Nemetz is a member of the Supreme Court and Appellate Practice in Mayer Brown’s Washington, D. C. office. Miriam has briefed dozens of cases in state and federal appellate courts and the U.S. Supreme Court, and has argued before the US Courts of Appeals for the D.C., Second, Sixth and Seventh Circuits. Miriam handles a wide variety of appeals but has developed specialized expertise in cases involving punitive damages and employment-related claims. Since 2009, Miriam has been selected by her peers every year for inclusion in The Best Lawyers In America in the specialty of Appellate Law. She is a co-author of Mayer Brown's Federal Appellate Practice treatise, published by BNA Books in December 2008.

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Should divided panels of federal appellate courts really be deciding state-law issues of first impression? That’s what happened last month in Lindenberg v. Jackson National Life Insurance Co. In Lindenberg, two Sixth Circuit judges—over a lengthy dissent by the third member of the panel—resolved two state-law issues in a manner that expands the availability of punitive damages under Tennessee law.
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In Gomez v. Cabatic, the New York Appellate Division, Second Department, affirmed the imposition of punitive damages in a medical malpractice case based on the defendant’s destruction of documents in an effort to avoid liability. But it ordered a remittitur of the large punitive award to $500,000—an amount equal to the compensatory damages.
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In a recent decision in In re Paulsboro Derailment Cases, the Third Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a case brought by plaintiffs who alleged that they had been exposed to airborne chemicals following a train derailment. This decision turned on the panel’s conclusion that the plaintiffs had not asserted a valid punitive-damages claim. The decision provides a useful reminder that state-law substantive standards for punitive liability have teeth. 
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In 2015, West Virginia enacted a statute that caps punitive damages at the greater of $500,000 or four times the compensatory damages. We blogged about the statute here, explaining that the West Virginia legislature was seeking to reform the state’s image as a “judicial hellhole” that is hostile to defendants.
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TreatiseWe are excited to report that in late December Thomson Reuters released the fourth edition of the multi-volume treatise Business and Commercial Litigation in Federal Courts.  As in the first three editions, we contributed the chapter on punitive damages—Chapter 48 in the new edition.

The punitive damages chapter, which spans 154 pages, provides strategic

Hot, burning tunnel & light. Way to another worldIn recent years, St. Louis has done much to earn a place on the American Tort Reform Association’s list of judicial hell holes.  Not content to rest on its laurels, the St. Louis circuit court grabbed the headlines again last week with a draw-dropping $70 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson ($67.25 million, including $65 million in punitive damages) and Imerys Talc America ($2.75 million, including $2.5 million in punitive damages) in a case alleging that J&J talcum powder caused the plaintiff’s ovarian cancer.
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The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires procedural fairness in state trials, but that principle seems absent from a recent California Court of Appeal decision upholding a judgment against Kaiser Gypsum Company for almost $1.6 million in compensatory damages and close to $4 million in punitive damages.

Asbestos

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