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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Tort Reform Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Tort Reform Legal News



Headline Tort Reform Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



Divided U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Maritime Punitives, Cuts Exxon Valdez Award
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In an opinion of first impression, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled June 25 that punitive damages are available for torts under maritime law but differed sharply on how to calculate a maritime punitive damages award, which five justices ruled should be no more than the compensatory damages award (Exxon Shipping Co., et al. v. Grant Baker, et al. No. 07-219, U.S. Sup.; See November 2007, Page 4). Full story on lexis.com



Prempro Punitive Damages Award Vacated; MDL Judge Orders New Trial
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Improperly admitted expert testimony concerning the manner in which Wyeth and Pharmacia & Upjohn tested and marketed their hormone replacement therapies resulted in a jury's $27.1 million punitive damages award to a breast cancer patient, the federal judge presiding over the Prempro multidistrict litigation ruled July 8 in vacating the award and ordering a new trial (In re Prempro Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 1507; Donna Scroggin v. Wyeth, et al., No. 04-CV-1169, E.D. Ark.; See March 2008, Page 7). Full story on lexis.com



Idaho Supreme Court Vacates Punitive Damages Award In Land Dispute
LEWISTON, Idaho - Punitive damages awarded in a trespass case cannot stand, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled June 4, in part because the trial court judge improperly visited the land that is in dispute (Dennis Lyle Akers and Sherrie L. Akers v. Vernon J. Mortensen and Marti E. Mortensen, et al., No. 33587/33694, Idaho Sup.; 2008 Ida. LEXIS 130). Full story on lexis.com



Ohio Supreme Court Reverses $3 Million Punitive Award In Malpractice Case
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court on July 9 reversed a $3 million punitive damages award in a medical malpractice case, finding that an appellate court erred in upholding the award without applying the Gore guideposts set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court (Barnes, Exr. v. University Hospitals of Cleveland; MedLink of Ohio, Inc., et al., No. 2007-0140, Ohio Sup.; 2008 Ohio LEXIS 1776). Full story on lexis.com



Texas Appeals Court Reverses Exemplary Damages Award In Contract Fraud Suit
DALLAS - Because a jury wrongly found in favor of a weight-loss-surgery company on a negligent misrepresentation claim, the exemplary damages that it awarded on that claim cannot stand, a Texas appeals court held June 25 (Plano Surgery Center v. New You Weight Management Center, No. 05-07-00018-CV, Tex. App., 5th Dist., Dallas; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 4642). Full story on lexis.com



Jury Awards Software Firm $2 Million In Punitive Damages In Breach Of Contract Case
Case name: GT Software, Inc., v. WebMethods, Inc., and Action Motivation, Inc. Case number: 1:07-CV-0172-BBM Full story on lexis.com



Kentucky Couple Awarded $100,000 In Punitives In Water Intrusion Suit
Case name: Mark Tabler and Janice Tabler v. Wolhoy Construction LLC Case number: 05-0071 Court: Ky. Cir., Greenup Co. Full story on lexis.com



On Rehearing, Texas Court Reverses Itself, Affirms $10M Award
SAN ANTONIO - A Texas appeals court on June 25 reversed a remittitur of a multimillion dollar verdict in the assault of a nursing home resident, saying the trial court properly followed the guidelines set by a bankruptcy court regarding the award of damages. The appeals court, following a rehearing, found that each named defendant was charged with separate claims resulting in a reasonable award of $10 million (Sylvia Casas, et al. v. Rosamarie Paradez, as Administrator and Heir at Law of the Estate of Tranquilino Mendoza, No. 04-06-00417-CV, Texas App., 4th Dist., San Antonio; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 4635). Full story on lexis.com



Magistrate Judge Affirms Punitives Against Property Owner In Insurance Fraud
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A jury's $1 million punitive damages award against a property owner who submitted fraudulent insurance claims was supported by the evidence, a federal magistrate judge ruled July 1, denying the owner's motions for a new trial and judgment as a matter of law (American Family Mutual Insurance Company v. Robert Miell; Robert Miell v. Brett Tholson and Brett Tholson Agency, Inc., No. CO4-0142, N.D. Iowa; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50289). Full story on lexis.com



Appeals Panel Affirms $430,000 Punitive Award In Contract Fraud Suit
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A family's conduct regarding the sale of a restaurant constituted malice, thus supporting a $430,020 punitive damages award against it, a California appeals panel held June 30 (Phu Dung Le, et al. v. Trong Nguyen, et al., G037295, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3; 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5346). Full story on lexis.com



$900,002 Award For Former Wal-Mart Employee On Disability Bias Claims Upheld
NEW YORK - A New York man with cerebral palsy was properly awarded $900,002, including $300,000 in punitive damages, after Wal-Mart Stores Inc. assigned him to collect garbage and carts after working for just a few days in the pharmacy department without any mistakes, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled July 2 (Patrick S. Brady v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., et al., No. 06-5486, 2nd Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 13850). Full story on lexis.com



New York Justice: Verdict, Awards Warranted; Evidence 'Clear And Convincing'
BROOKLYN, NY - A New York state court justice on June 23 held that a jury's verdict was proper and that an award of damages was warranted in a lead poisoning action in which the justice said the evidence was "clear and convincing" that the defendants had knowledge of the hazards and failed to abate them (Wendy Solis-Vicuna, et al. v. Maria Notias, et al., No. 17769/2002, N.Y. Sup., Kings Co.; 2008 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3619). Full story on lexis.com



Panel Affirms Punitives For 1 Worker In Employment Suit, Reverses For Another
ST. LOUIS - A youth soccer association board "intentionally committed a wrong" by firing an employee who spoke out about the alleged sexual harassment of another employee, a Missouri appeals panel ruled July 8, affirming a $75,000 punitive damages award (Rhonda Entwistle and Megan Drury v. Missouri Youth Soccer Association, Inc., et al., No. ED88731, Mo. App., Eastern Dist., Div. One; 2008 Mo. App. LEXIS 925). Full story on lexis.com



Delaware Supreme Court Affirms Punitive Damages Award In Accident
WILMINGTON, Del. - A tractor-trailer driver's actions in running a red light and causing an accident demonstrated conduct sufficient to warrant a jury's $100,000 punitive damages award, the Delaware Supreme Court held June 20 (Eddie Porter and Commercial Truck Services Inc. v. Robert L. Turner, No. 05C-09-104, Del. Sup.; 2008 Del. LEXIS 280). Full story on lexis.com



Indiana Federal Judge: Automatic Stay Violated; Punitive Damages Proper
HAMMOND, Ind. - An Indiana federal judge on July 8 ruled that a creditor violated the automatic stay in an "egregious" manner, warranting $10,000 in punitive damages (Barry G. Radcliffe v. International Painters and Allied Trades Industry Pension Fund [In Re: Barry G. Radcliffe], No. 07-285, Chapter 7, N.D. Ind., Hammond Div.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52449). Full story on lexis.com



Court Dismisses Punitive Damages Claim In Injury Suit Over Falling Ladder
BRONX, NY - A man who was injured when a ladder from a nearby construction project fell into his yard is not entitled to punitive damages, a New York Supreme Court justice held June 17, granting summary judgment and dismissing the claim (Richard Hauptner and Nila Hauptner v. Laurel Development, LLC, et al., No. 7606/04, N.Y. Sup., Bronx Co.; 2008 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3559). Full story on lexis.com



Federal Judge Declines To Award Punitive Damages In Employment Contract Case
Case name: Cal Fishkin, et al. v. Susquehanna Partners, G.P., et al. v. TABFG, LLC, et al. Case number: 03-3766 Full story on lexis.com



Panel Denies Insureds' Petition For Rehearing Of Insurance Coverage Action
NEW ORLEANS - A Mississippi couple's petition for rehearing of an insurance coverage dispute involving the calculation of punitive damages under Mississippi law was denied by a federal appellate panel on July 7 (Patrick Joseph Essinger Sr., et al. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, No. 07-60376, 5th Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 14279). Full story on lexis.com



Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Punitives In Medical Malpractice Suit
DAYTON, Ohio - A trial court's decision to vacate a jury's $300,000 punitive damages award against two physicians accused of failing to diagnose a boy's cystic fibrosis was proper, an Ohio appeals court panel ruled June 13 (Charlotte Stephenson, et al. v. Upper Valley Family Care, Inc., et al., No. 07CA12, Ohio App., Miami Co.; 2008 Ohio App. LEXIS 2425). Full story on lexis.com



Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Punitives Claim In Conversion Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A credit union did not act with malice in withdrawing money from a jointly owned account, an appeals court held June 20, affirming a district court's dismissal of a punitive damages claim against the credit union (Krishna Muir v. Navy Federal Credit Union and Patricia L. Dearing, L.L.C., No. 07-7066, D.C. Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 13286). Full story on lexis.com



Wisconsin Supreme Court Affirms Reversal, Remand Of Punitive Damages Claim
MADISON, Wis. - A trial court incorrectly limited its consideration of a punitive damages claim by taking into account only allegations contained in a complaint, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held June 27, affirming an appeals court's reversal of the trial court's denial of the claim (Ramachandra Rao, M.D., v. WMA Securities, Inc., World Group Securities, Inc., IDEX Investor Services, Inc., State Street Bank & Trust Company and David Novak, No. 2006AP813, Wis. Sup.; 2008 Wisc. LEXIS 324). Full story on lexis.com



California Appeals Court Affirms Denial Of Punitive Damages Against Insurer
LOS ANGELES - A California appellate court on July 14 affirmed a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge's dismissal of punitive damage claims against an insurer as part of a bad faith coverage action (Edward N. Miller, et al. v. Mercury Casualty Company, No. B197080, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 7; 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5633). Full story on lexis.com



Punitive Damages Claims In West Virginia Personal Injury Action To Proceed
WHEELING, W.Va. - A West Virginia man's claims for punitive damages as part of a personal injury case in which he was injured on the job will be allowed to proceed, a federal judge ruled July 3 (Shawn P. Durbin, et al. v. Ball Corp., d/b/a U.S. Can Corp., et al., No. 5:07cv115, N.D. W.Va.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51217). Full story on lexis.com



California Judge Abused Discretion By Requiring Punitive Damages As Security
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A Santa Clara County, Calif., Superior Court judge abused his discretion by requiring a defendant who was contesting a default judgment imposed against her to post $1.5 million in punitive damages until the conclusion of the litigation, an appeals panel held July 15 (Mark D. Shapiro, et al. v. Pamela W. Clark, No. H030063, Calif. App., 6th Dist.; 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 1054). Full story on lexis.com



NuvaRing Maker Says Punitive Damages Claim Raises Federal Issue
NEWARK, N.J. - A man's wrongful death suit against the maker of the NuvaRing contraceptive should remain in federal court, the company says in a June 16 brief, arguing that his request for punitive damages under New Jersey's Products Liability Act (NJPLA) raises a federal issue because it requires proof that the company committed fraud on the Food and Drug Administration (Robert Bozicev v. Organon USA Inc., et al., No. 08-cv-2021, D. N.J.). Full story on lexis.com



Exxon Valdez Owners Oppose $488 Million In Interest Sought By Class On Punitive Damages
WASHINGTON, D.C. - ExxonMobil Corp. and Exxon Shipping Co. oppose a $488 million award of interest on top of $507.5 million maritime punitive damages to the class of Alaskans injured by the 1989 grounding of the Exxon Valdez and release of 11 million gallons of crude oil into Prince William Sound (Exxon Shipping Co., et al v. Grant Baker, et al., No. 07-219, U.S. Sup.; See November 2007, Page 4, and related story in this issue.) Full story on lexis.com



Texas Appeals Court Vacates $26M Verdict On Evidentiary Weakness
HOUSTON - For the second time in a month, a Texas appeals court has found insufficient scientific basis for evidence supporting claims that Vioxx caused a plaintiff's heart attack, this time vacating a $26 million wrongful death verdict (Merck & Co., Inc., appellant v. Carol A. Ernst, Appellee, No. 14-06-00835-CV, Texas App., 14th Dist.; Tex. App. LEXIS 3951). Full story on lexis.com



Appeals Court Vacates $9M In Punitives And Vioxx Attorney Fee
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey appellate court has vacated as federally preempted a $9 million punitive damages award to a man who suffered disabling cardiac injuries while using Vioxx, as well as $3.7 million in attorney fees awarded in a consumer fraud action tried at the same time as the personal injury claims (Thomas Cona, et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., No. A-0077-07T1; John McDarby, et al. v. Merck & Co. Inc., No. A-00776-07T1, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2008 N.J. Super. LEXIS 116). Full story on lexis.com



9th Circuit Vacates $250,000 Punitives Award In Trademark, Fraud Suit
SAN FRANCISCO - Saying a $250,000 punitive damages award against a farming company violates due process rights, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 8 vacated the award and remanded the issue to the district court for recalculation (Sun Pacific Farming Cooperative, Inc. v. Sun World International, Inc., et al., No. 06-16326, 9th Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 10345). Full story on lexis.com



$926 Million Colorado Judgment Against Rocky Flats Contractors Stayed; Appeals Anticipated
DENVER - Former Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant contractors Rockwell International Corp. and The Dow Chemical Co. on June 2 were ordered to pay members of a property damage class $926 million in compensatory and exemplary damages more than two years after a jury found the companies liable for continuing trespass and nuisance for plutonium contamination, but allocation of the award is stayed pending appeal (Merilyn Cook, et al. v. Rockwell International Corp., et al., No. 90-181, D. Colo.). Full story on lexis.com



8th Circuit Affirms $2 Million Award Against Billboard Firm In Suit By Competitors
ST. LOUIS - A $2 million punitive damages award against billboard company Viacom Outdoor for scheming to take away business from smaller competing companies is supported by the evidence, an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled June 4 (Craig Outdoor Advertising, Inc., et al. v. Viacom Outdoor, Inc., et al., Nos. 06-3335, 06-3337, 06-3339 and 06-3341; 8th Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 11824). Full story on lexis.com



Rhode Island Supreme Court Affirms $2 Million Punitives Award
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The Rhode Island Supreme Court on May 13 affirmed a Providence County Superior Court jury's award of $2 million in punitive damages to the parents of a woman whose husband allegedly murdered her while scuba diving in the British Virgin Islands (Richard and Lisa Tyre, as natural parents and heirs of Shelley Arden Tyre v. David Swain, individually and as executor of the estate of Shelley Arden Tyre, No. 2006-183, R.I. Sup.; 2008 R.I. LEXIS 57). Full story on lexis.com



Panel Affirms $500,000 Award In Siblings' Breach Of Contract Suit Over Trusts
RALEIGH, N.C. - A jury's $500,000 punitive damages award against a man who refused to distribute to his siblings proceeds from the trusts of their deceased parents was supported by the evidence, a North Carolina appellate panel held May 20 (R. Kenneth Babb, et al. v. Anne Newton Graham, et al., No. COA07-848, N.C. App.; 2008 N.C. App. LEXIS 1024). Full story on lexis.com



Punitives Award In Business Fraud Case Not Excessive, Appeals Court Holds
LOS ANGELES - A California appeals court on May 19 affirmed a $400,000 punitive damages award against a company in a fraud case, finding that the award was not excessive based on the company's net worth (Infac Management Corporation, et al. v. Infac India Group, LLC and Vernon R. Loucks, Jr., No. B195247, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4; 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4040). Full story on lexis.com



Texas Appeals Panel Affirms Exemplary Damages Award Against Mortgage Company
DALLAS - A couple is entitled to $125,000 in exemplary damages from a mortgage company because the evidence at trial was sufficient for a jury to find that the company's collection efforts were malicious, a Texas appeals panel held May 7 (EMC Mortgage Corp. v. Mark Jones and Patricia S. Jones; Texas App., 5th Dist.; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 3270). Full story on lexis.com



Arkansas Appeals Court Affirms $120,000 Punitive Award In Fraud Case
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A $120,000 punitive damages award against a man who sold timber cut from land he did not own and then used the money to gamble was not excessive, a divided Arkansas Court of Appeals held May 14, affirming the award (Alan Prendergast v. Leo Craft, et al., No. CA 06-1282, Ark. App.; 2008 Ark. App. LEXIS 402). Full story on lexis.com



Federal Appeals Court Affirms $80,000 Punitives Award In Credit Dispute
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal appeals panel on May 14 affirmed a Virginia jury's award of $80,000 in punitive damages to a Virginia man as part of a lawsuit that accused a Virginia bank of violating the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) (Rex Richard Saunders v. Branch Banking and Trust Company of Virginia, et al., No. 07-1108, 4th Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 10425). Full story on lexis.com



U.S. High Court Takes On Williams Again, But Not Punitives Per Se
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court agreed June 9 to take a third look at a high-stakes punitive damages case out of Oregon, fewer than 18 months after its Oregon counterpart found alternate grounds for reinstating the award the federal high court had vacated (Philip Morris USA, Inc. v. Mayola Williams, No. 07-1216, U.S. Sup.). Full story on lexis.com



$6 Million Punitives Award In Sexual Harassment Case Excessive, Appeals Panel Holds
SAN DIEGO - Evidence at trial did not support a jury's $6 million punitive damages award to four movie theater employees who sued the theater where they worked as teens for sexual harassment, a California appeals panel held May 30, affirming an order for a new trial on the damages (Lindsay Marcisz, et al. v. Movie Theatre Entertainment Group, Inc., D047009, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 1; 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4455). Full story on lexis.com



Court Reverses $1 Million Award Against Bank Over Violation Of Order
JACKSON, Miss. - A citation, not a punitive damages award, is the proper remedy for a contempt of court violation, the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled June 12 in reversing a $1 million award against a bank that improperly allowed a man to withdraw funds from an account restricted by court order (In Re The Guardianship of Albert Jermaine Duckett and Walter Williams, Jr.; Walter Williams, Sr., Guardian: BancorpSouth Bank f/k/a Bank of Mississippi v. Albert Jermaine Duckett, Walter Williams, Jr., and Walter Williams, Sr., No. 2006-CA-01738-SCT; Miss. Sup.; 2008 Miss. LEXIS 307). Full story on lexis.com



California Judge Erred By Awarding Punitive Damages In Business Dispute
LOS ANGELES - A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge erred in his award of punitive damages as part of a case involving the sale of a motorcycle that was the subject of foreclosure, a California appellate court ruled June 9 (Cumis Insurance Services Inc. v. Johnny Ciauri, No. B195568, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 5; 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4624). Full story on lexis.com



Tennessee Appeals Court Reverses $1 Million Punitive Award In Dumping Case
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A $1 million punitive damages award against a construction company cannot stand because the trial court, in approving the award, relied on a claim that the jury rejected, a Tennessee appeals court held May 16 (David Goff, et ux, et al. v. Elmo Greer & Sons Construction Co. Inc., No. M2006-02660-COA-R3-CV, Tenn. App.; 2008 Tenn. App. LEXIS 296). Full story on lexis.com



California Appeals Panel Reverses Order Striking Punitive Damages Award
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - A trial court erred in setting aside a portion of a $500,000 punitive damages award in a fraud case, a California appeals court held June 5 in reversing the ruling and reinstating the award (Michael Price v. Vernon Gingrich, No. E043793; Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 2; 2008 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 4580). Full story on lexis.com



Magistrate Reduces Punitive Award In Battle Between Former Political Rivals
MIAMI - A one-time mayoral hopeful in Florida is entitled to punitive damages from his opponent in the primary election, but the $657,000 awarded by a jury is excessive, a federal magistrate judge held May 1 (Christopher James Peer v. Daniel Warfield Lewis, No. 06-60146-CIV-TORRES, S.D. Fla.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38908). Full story on lexis.com



Louisiana Appeals Court Reduces Punitive Award Against Driver In Accident
NEW ORLEANS - A trial court's award of punitive damages in a drunken driving case was supported by the evidence, a Louisiana appeals court ruled May 28, but the amount of the award was excessive (Lucas Byous v. Clyde Ebanks, State Farm Fire and Casualty Insurance Co. and Allstate Insurance Co., No. 2007-CA-1534, La. App., 4th Cir.; 2008 La. App. Unpub. LEXIS 282). Full story on lexis.com



Federal Judge Upholds Claim For Punitive Damages Against Health Care Facility Operator
BILOXI, Miss. - A Mississippi federal judge on May 7 denied a motion to dismiss a punitive damages claim from a negligence action against a health care company, saying the plaintiff presented sufficient evidence to show gross negligence or a willful or intentional wrong (Earnest Johnson, by and through his wife and next friend, Gloria Johnson, on behalf of the wrongful death beneficiaries and as administratrix of the estate of Earnest Johnson, v. Mariner Health Care Inc., f/k/a Mariner Post Acute Network, et al., No. 5:06-cv-161, S.D. Miss., Western Div.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37797). Full story on lexis.com



Forklift Manufacturer Fails To Sway Judge To Reconsider Summary Judgment Decision
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge on May 9 again denied a forklift manufacturer's motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of punitive damages in a workplace accident action, contending that it has not presented any new evidence to make him reconsider his previous decision (Cynthia Mahon and Gary Markley v. Crown Equipment Corp., No. 2:03-cv-01763, E.D. Calif.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38232). Full story on lexis.com



Panel Affirms Summary Judgment On Punitives In Insurance Bad Faith Suit
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 20 found that during 10 weeks of processing an uninsured motorist (UM) claim, an insurer never denied the claim or failed to honor an obligation as required to make a jury issue of bad faith, affirming summary judgment in favor of the insurer on claims for bad faith and punitive damages (Patrick Joseph Essinger Sr., individually and as administrator of the estate of Jolee Paige Essinger, deceased; Constance Lorraine Essinger, individually and as administrator of the estate of Jolee Paige Essinger, deceased v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., No. 07-60376, 5th Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 10784). Full story on lexis.com



Federal Jury Awards Punitive Damages To Men For Wrongful Arrest
Case name: Gerardo Cazares, et al. v. City of Bell Gardens, et al. Case number: 06-5985 Court: C.D. Calif. Full story on lexis.com



Jury Awards $4.1 Million In Punitives To Security Guard In Sexual Harassment Suit
Case name: Sharon Paterson v. California Department of General Services, et al. Case number: 05-00827 Full story on lexis.com



Jury Awards Man $150,000 In Punitives In Beating By Law Enforcement Officials
Case name: Don Antoine v. Darin Griem, et al. Case number: 06-01349 Court: E.D. Calif. Judge: William B. Shubb Full story on lexis.com



Dismissal Of Punitive Damages Claim Precludes Discharge Of Debt, Bankruptcy Judge Rules
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Because a father's punitive damages claim against the man who fatally shot his son was stricken by the trial judge in a wrongful death proceeding, the father is not able to prevent the $1.97 million wrongful death judgment from being discharged in the shooter's bankruptcy case, a bankruptcy judge ruled May 1 (Austin Cornejo, administrator of the estate of Jack Steven Cornejo v. Brandon Gotwalt, Adversary Proceeding No. 07-1128; In Re: Brandon Paul Gotwalt, debtor, No. 07-11866-SSM; Chapter 7, E.D. Va. Bkcy.; 2008 Bankr. LEXIS 1384). Full story on lexis.com



Kentucky Supreme Court Forms Committee To Prevent Litigation Abuse
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky Supreme Court Chief Justice Joseph E. Lambert announced Feb. 7 the appointment of 12 Kentucky attorneys to a committee that will be tasked to study mass tort and class action litigation cases. Full story on lexis.com



Congress Approves Legislation Seeking To Curtail FACTA Suits
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Senate on May 20 unanimously approved a bill amending the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACTA) to clarify the language regulating the printing of credit card receipts by retailers. Full story on lexis.com






$200 Million Punitive Award Vacated; Remaining Award Allowed To Stand
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A $500 million jury award was drastically reduced April 24 by the California Supreme Court in the longstanding dispute between City of Hope National Medical Center and Genentech Inc., which stood accused of breach of fiduciary duty and breach of contract (City of Hope National Medical Center v. Genentech Inc., No. S129463, Calif. Sup.; 2008 Cal. LEXIS 4435). Full story on lexis.com



California Court Vacates $5 Million Punitive Damages Award For Oil Contamination
VENTURA, Calif. - A California appeals panel threw out a $5 million punitive damages award on March 4, saying that a trial court essentially invited a jury to punish Unocal Corp. for its conduct in past oil spills that had nothing to do with the contamination claims at issue and remanding the case for a new trial on punitive damages liability (Garry N. Holdgrafer, et al., v. Unocal Corp., et al., No. B175953, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 6; 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 315). Full story on lexis.com



New York Judge Vacates Arbitration Panel's Punitive Damages Award
NEW YORK - A Manhattan Supreme Court judge on April 22 vacated an arbitration panel's award of $95,000 in punitive damages to a Barclays Capital Inc. employee who claimed that the investment bank libeled her in a National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) filing (Barclays Capital Inc. v. Elizabeth Bing Shen, No. 111720/07, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2008 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2327). Full story on lexis.com



U.S Supreme Court Denies Appeal Of $112 Million Punitive Damages In Louisiana NORM Litigation
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on April 21 declined without comment an appeal by ExxonMobil Corp. of a $112 million punitive damages award in a Louisiana property damage lawsuit (ExxonMobil Corp. v. Joseph Grefer, et al., No. 07-1055, U.S. Sup.; See November 2007, Page 15). Full story on lexis.com



Kentucky Supreme Court Affirms Retrial Of $11 Million Punitive Damages Award
FRANKFORT, Ky. - The Kentucky Supreme Court on April 24 affirmed an appeals court's order of a new trial on an $11.2 million punitive damages verdict in a medical malpractice and product liability case (Hyman & Armstrong, et al. v. Ronald Gunderson, et al., Sandoz Pharmaceuticals Corporation, et al. v. Ronald Gunderson, et al., No. 2006-SC-00175-DG, No. 2006-SC-000179-DG, Ky. Sup.; 2008 Ky. LEXIS 114; See November 2005, Page 8). Full story on lexis.com



Appeals Panel: Trial Court Must Vacate Order Striking Punitive Damages Claim
LOS ANGELES - A trial court erred by denying a nursing home company's motion to strike a punitive damages claim, a California appeals court held April 23, instructing the trial court to vacate the order and conduct further proceedings (Little Company of Mary Hospital, et al., petitioners v. The Superior Court of Los Angeles County, respondent; Francisco Marin, real party in interest, No. B204061; Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 7; 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 603). Full story on lexis.com



Appeals Court Reverses Summary Judgment Of Wrongful Death Action
RALEIGH, N.C. - A genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether a North Carolina police department and two of its officers were negligent for allegedly failing to enforce a protection from abuse order that resulted in the murder of a woman, a North Carolina appellate court ruled May 6 (Vernetta Marie Cockerham-Ellerbee, individually and as administratrix of the estate of Candice Cockerham v. The Town of Jonesville, et al., No. COA07-1161, N.C. App.; 2008 N.C. App. LEXIS 853). Full story on lexis.com



Ohio Appeals Court Affirms $18 Million Punitives Award
CANTON, Ohio - An Ohio appeals court on April 7 affirmed a $52 million award, including $18 million in punitive damages, as part of a personal injury action filed against a private security firm (Joshua J. Doepker v. Willo Security Inc., et al., No. 2007 CA 00184, Ohio App., 5th Dist.; 2008 Ohio App. LEXIS 1711). Full story on lexis.com



Texas Court Reverses Exemplary Damages In 'Take-Home' Case
HOUSTON - There is insufficient evidence of malice or a known extreme risk to support an exemplary judgment against an oil company for asbestos exposure to family members before 1972, a Texas court held April 3 (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Louise Altimore, No. 14-04-01133-CV, Texas App., 14th Dist.; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 2389). Full story on lexis.com



Judge Not Persuaded To Change $5.75 Million Punitive Damages Award
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on April 22 denied an insurer's post-trial motion that a $5.75 million punitive damages award against it should be dismissed on the ground that a reinsurer failed to present legally sufficient evidence to warrant the award (AXA Versicherung AG, on its own behalf and as successor in interest to Albingia Versicherungs AG v. New Hampshire Insurance Co., et al., No. 05 Civ. 10180 [JSR], S.D. N.Y.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33950). Full story on lexis.com



6th Circuit Affirms $3 Million Punitive Award In Inmate's Death
CINCINNATI - A prison psychiatrist's "inexplicably aloof" actions involving an inmate who died of severe dehydration justify a jury's $3 million punitive damages award against the doctor, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court Appeals found April 29 (Antoinette Gibson v. David Moskowitz, M.D., Nos. 07-1074/1198, 6th Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 92233). Full story on lexis.com



Federal Judge: $2.5 Million Damages Award In Inmate's Death Is Not Excessive
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A $2.5 million punitive damages award against two prison employees in the death of an inmate is not constitutionally excessive, a federal judge held April 24, denying the employees' motion for judgment as a matter of law (Bonita Clark Murphy v. Lee Gilman, et al., Nos. 03-145, 04-103; W.D. Mich., Southern Div.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33761). Full story on lexis.com



Texas Panel Affirms $750,000 In Punitives, Strikes Mental Anguish Award
WACO, Texas - In a split decision, a Texas appellate court on April 23 affirmed a $750,000 exemplary damages award despite eliminating a $500,000 mental anguish damages award (Jim Tranum v. David Broadway, No. 10-06-00308-CV, Texas App., 10th Dist.; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 2935). Full story on lexis.com



Judge Awards Woman $50,000 In Punitives On Emotional Distress Claim
TULSA, Okla. - A woman is entitled to $50,000 in punitive damages from a mortgage company that she alleged had repeatedly harassed her over a loan that it had no interest in, a federal judge ruled April 21 (CitiFinancial Mortgage Company, Inc. v. Karen Frasure and Albert Fleming, No. 06-CV-160-TCK-PJC, N.D. Okla.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32723). Full story on lexis.com



Insurer Not Required To Indemnify For Punitives, Judge Rules
HOUSTON - An auto dealership's insurance policies do not cover the punitive damages portion of an arbitration award because the policies exclude coverage for employment-related practices, a Texas appeals panel ruled April 10, reversing a trial court's judgment requiring an insurer to indemnify the dealership for $500,000 in punitives (DaimlerChrysler Insurance Company v. Jack Apple, Jr. and Greenspoint Dodge of Houston, Inc., No. 01-05-01115-CV; Texas App., 1st Dist.; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 2570). Full story on lexis.com



Texas Appeals Panel Reduces $200,000 Award In Conversion Suit
DALLAS - A jury's $200,000 exemplary damages award to a taxi driver whose former employer took his car is "excessive" and "manifestly unjust," a Texas appeals court found April 14 before suggesting that the trial court reduce the award to $12,000 (Khorshid Inc., d/b/a Taxi Dallas, and Nasser Mansourian v. Uche Christian, No. 05-07-00188-CV; Texas App., 5th Dist.; 2008 Tex. App. LEXIS 2656). Full story on lexis.com



JNOV Reversed; Panel Reinstates Jury's $500,000 Punitive Damages Award
SAN FRANCISCO - Finding that evidence at trial supported a jury's determination of intentional discrimination and its $500,000 punitive damages award, a California appeals court on April 18 reversed the trial court's grant of judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) on the punitive damages award to a fired employee (Marietta Harvey v. Sybase, Inc., A109300, A111450, 1st Dist., Cal. App., Div. 5; 2008 Cal. App. LEXIS 580). Full story on lexis.com



Parties Settle Hurricane Katrina Wind Vs. Water Dispute; Suit Dismissed
JACKSON, Miss. - After the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals vacated a $1 million punitive damages award entered against an insurer in one of the first Hurricane Katrina suits to go to trial, the parties agreed on April 25 to settle the coverage dispute (Norman and Genevieve Broussard v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., No. 06-6, S.D. Miss.; See April 2008, Page 9). Full story on lexis.com



5th Circuit Slashes $2 Million Punitives Award In Fraud Suit Over Weight-Loss Products
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 11 cut in half a jury's $2 million punitive damages award against a man sued by a weight-loss product manufacturer, saying the company was not entitled to two punitive awards "for the same course of misdeeds" (AdvoCare International LP v. Horizon Laboratories Inc., et al., No. 06-11157; 5th Cir.; 2008 U.S. App. LEXIS 7858). Full story on lexis.com



Appeals Panel Overturns $300,000 Punitives Award In Contract Case
ELGIN, Ill. - An Illinois appeals court on April 16 reversed a $300,000 punitive damages award in a breach of contract case because no basis had been established for computing compensatory or actual damages (John Kirkpatrick, et al. v. David Strosberg, et al., Nos. 2-06-0724 and 2-06-0731 cons., Ill. App., 2nd Dist.; 2008 Ill. App. LEXIS 358). Full story on lexis.com



Ohio Appeals Panel Reverses $250,000 Punitives Award
COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio appeals court panel on April 29 reversed a jury's award of $250,000 in punitive damages against a trucking company whose driver was involved in a fatal accident (The Estate of Robert L. Beavers, Jr., etc. v. William E. Knapp, et al., No. 07AP-612, Ohio App., 10th Dist., Franklin Co.; 2008 Ohio App. LEXIS 1726). Full story on lexis.com



Judge: Jury Should Decide If Punitives Are Warranted In Employment Suit
CLEVELAND - A jury must decide whether an employer's actions in firing an occupational therapist were egregious enough to warrant punitive damages, a federal judge found April 11, denying the employer's summary judgment motion (Bonita Chavis v. Progressive Step Corp., No. 5:06CV2455, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30153). Full story on lexis.com



Claim For Punitives In Medical Malpractice Case Survives Dismissal Motions
PHILADELPHIA - The son of a man who died after a knee replacement procedure has adequately pleaded his punitive damages claim against a hospital in a malpractice case, with two exceptions, a federal magistrate judge ruled April 17 (Robert Stroud, individually and as administrator of the Estate of James H. Stroud, deceased, v. Abington Memorial Hospital, et al., No. 06-4840, E.D. Pa.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31674). Full story on lexis.com



Judge: Punitives Claim Can Proceed In Suit Over Alleged Sexual Abuse
HONOLULU - A social worker being sued by a family whose children were the focus of a sexual abuse investigation is not entitled to summary judgment on a punitive damages claim, a federal judge ruled April 15 (Vanessa Haldeman & Benjamin Haldeman, et al. vs. Ruth Golden, et al., CV No. 05-00810 DAE-KSC, D. Hawaii; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31157). Full story on lexis.com



Prempro Maker Says No Evidence Supports Punitive Damages Claim
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A woman claiming that her use of hormone replacement therapy contributed to her development of cancer is not entitled to pursue punitive damages claims, Wyeth says in a May 5 motion, because there is no evidence showing that it withheld information from the Food and Drug Administration about the risk of breast cancer (In re: HRT Litigation, Case No. 266; Loretta Deboard v. Wyeth, et al., No. MID-L-1147-06 MT, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.). Full story on lexis.com



Mississippi Welding Plaintiff Opposes Judgment Overturning $1.7 Million Punitive Damages
GULFPORT, Miss. - A welder who won a $2.4 million jury award in March has answered the pleading of three welding consumables manufacturers challenging the punitive damages portion of the award with the theory that the award is a matter for the jury, which found the evidence sufficient to award punitive damages (Robert E. Jowers, et uxor v. BOC Group, et al., No. 08-36, S.D. Miss.; See March 2008, Page 8). Full story on lexis.com



Punitive Damages Claims Tossed In Wrongful Death Electrocution Case
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A wrongful death action against an electric company and several companies performing work on electric lines does not support a claim for punitive damages under Pennsylvania law, a federal judge ruled April 28 (Debra A. Woodruff, administratrix of the estate of Jonathan A. Woodruff and Debra Woodruff individually v. Sullivan County Rural Electric Cooperative Inc., et al., No. 3:07-cv-1697, M.D. Pa.; 2008 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34493). Full story on lexis.com