June 19, 2008

Alabama Trial Judge Cuts AstraZeneca Punitive Damages From $160 Million Down to $120 Million

A few months ago, an Alabama jury awarded $40 million in compensatory damages and $175 million in punitive damages against AstraZeneca (the maker of Nexium and Crestor). Today, the San Jose Mercury News is reporting that the trial judge in that case has reduced the punitive damages down to $120 million, but left the rest of the award intact. That brings the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages down to three-to-one, but AstraZeneca will undoubtedly argue on appeal that the maximum amount of punitive damages is $40 million, citing the language in State Farm v. Campbell that supports the imposition of a one-to-one limit in cases with "substantial" compensatory damages.