In State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, the Supreme Court strongly implied that in some cases even a 1:1 ratio of punitive to compensatory damages might be too high. In Torres v. B/E Aerospace, Inc., the California Court of Appeal took that hint to heart. Continue Reading California Court Of Appeal Affirms Remittitur Of Punitive Damages To Lower Than 1:1 Ratio
Only three months after AbbVie obtained a retrial of a case in which a jury had imposed $150 million in punitive damages without awarding any compensatory damages, a new jury awarded the same plaintiff $200,000 in compensatory damages and $3 million in punitive damages. Continue Reading New Jury Imposes Disproportionate Punitive Award In AbbVie Retrial
Louisiana generally does not permit punitive damages. But if an accident happens on navigable waters, and the plaintiff brings a claim under federal maritime law, a Louisiana jury can award punitive damages, and Louisiana courts then must decide the full panoply of issues that arise in punitive damages cases. That’s what happened in Warren v. Shelter Mutual Insurance Co.
We reported on a bunch of eye-popping punitive awards in 2017. There have been further developments in a number of those cases. Though we may provide more comprehensive discussions of some of those developments, here is a quick update. Continue Reading Updates On Verdicts About Which We Reported In 2017
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. Continue Reading New York Appellate Division Allows Punitive Award Based On Post-Injury Spoliation of Evidence But Reduces Ratio to 1:1
The Ninth Circuit recently issued an unpublished memorandum opinion reducing a $2.5 million punitive award against GEICO to $1,064,282.44—four times the compensatory damages—in a Montana insurance bad-faith case. When it comes to punitive damages doctrine, the decision is a mixed bag. Continue Reading Ninth Circuit Issues Mixed-Bag Decision On Punitive Damages In Insurance Bad-Faith Case
As my colleague Andy Frey and I reported in an earlier post, an Illinois federal jury in July returned a $150 million punitive verdict against AbbVie without awarding the plaintiff any compensatory damages. That verdict is likely to be thrown out because Illinois does not permit punitive damages to be recovered in the absence of compensatory damages.
Now, less than three months later, another Illinois federal jury has imposed $140 million in punitive damages against AbbVie for the same alleged conduct—namely, failure to disclose that its low-T medication AdroGel can cause heart attacks. Even putting aside AbbVie’s other challenges to the verdict—which include attacks on the admission of expert testimony and the sufficiency of the evidence that the plaintiff’s heart attack was caused by his two months of AndroGel use—the punitive award is unlikely to stand because it is 1000 times the jury’s $140,000 compensatory award. Continue Reading Federal Jury Returns $140 Million Punitive Verdict Against AbbVie In Second AndroGel Trial
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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. Continue Reading Third Circuit Issues Helpful Decision On Punitive Liability Under New Jersey Law
Inevitably, when conscientious judges delve into the multi-dimensional issue of excessive punitive damages, they get some things right and other things wrong. Such is the case with the Fourth Circuit’s recent decision in Daugherty v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC. Unfortunately, as a doctrinal matter at least, the erroneous aspects of the decision predominate. Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Issues Mixed-Bag Decision On Punitive Damages In FCRA Cases