February 14, 2009

Utah District Court Cuts $63 Million Punitive Damages Award to $3.6 Million

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell has dramatically reduced a jury's punitive damages award in a lawsuit between two rival insurance companies. The jury awarded $63 million in punitive damages but Judge Campbell, in response to the defendant's post-trial motions, reduced the punitive damages to $3.6 million, equal to the amount of the jury's award of compensatory damages.

As we have observed, a greater number of courts have been limiting punitive damages to a one-to-one ratio recently, at least in cases involving substantial compensatory damages awards. I have written a short paper on this topic which will be published by the Washington Legal Foundation later this month.