May 1, 2008

Ford Petitions California Supreme Court to Review Buell-Wilson v. Ford

Earlier this week, Ford filed a petition for review in Buell-Wilson v. Ford, which we've been blogging about. That's the case in which the Court of Appeal reaffirmed a $55 million punitive damages award even after the US Supreme Court vacated their prior opinion affirming the same award. Ford's petition for review raises the following issues:

1. What procedural protections against the risk of punishment for alleged harm to nonparties are required by the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in Philip Morris v. Williams, and under what circumstances can those constitutional rights be deemed forfeited?

2. As a matter of California law and federal due process, are punitive damages prohibited in product liability cases where the manufacturer’s design conformed to objective indicators of reasonable safety, including industry standards and custom, governmental safety standards and policy judgments, and the existence of a genuine debate about what the law requires?

3. Is a $55 million punitive damage award, imposed in addition to $18 million in non-economic damages, in a case involving a single accident where the vehicle’s design was objectively reasonable, unconstitutionally excessive and arbitrary?