December 12, 2008

Radiologist Who Asked for $1 Billion Gets $7.5 Million

Yesterday we blogged about a radiologist's request for $1 billion in punitive damages. The Associated Press reports (via the San Francisco Chronicle) that the jury awarded $7.5 million in punitive damages, on top of $3.9 in compensatory damages already awarded.

While the plaintiffs' attorney may be disappointed that he didn't get the $1 billion, this two-to-one ratio will be easier to defend on appeal. Nevertheless, given the size of the award, I would expect Kaiser to appeal and argue that its conduct did not warrant punitive damages and/or that the punitive damages award is excessive in light of the already substantial compensatory damages award. Given the recent trend of California courts reducing punitive damages awards to a one-to-one ratio when compensatory damages are substantial, Kaiser might be able to shave $3.6 million off the award, if nothing else.

Update: For those who want to track this case on the Los Angeles County Superior Court's website, the case number is BC365398. A hearing on post-trial motions is set for March 11, 2009.