February 17, 2009

Utah District Court's Order Reducing $63 Million Punitive Damages Award Now Available

As a follow-up to last week's post about the District of Utah opinion that cut a $63 million punitive damages award to $3.6 million (for a 1-to-1 ratio with the compensatory damages), here's a link to the copy of the opinion. The punitive damages discussion begins on page 15. The Westlaw citation is 2009 WL 361267.

In addition to the ratio analysis, the opinion is interesting because it highlights a significant difference between Utah law and California law. Unlike California, Utah does not require plaintiffs to present evidence of the defendant's financial condition as a prerequisite to obtaining a punitive damages award. Accordingly, the district court here rejected the defendants' argument that the plaintiffs failed to introduce sufficient evidence of the defendants' financial condition, even though that argument likely would have succeeded in California.