July 14, 2009

Huge Punitive Damages Award Brewing in Kentucky

A press release on PR Newswire reports that a Kentucky jury has ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in a mass tort action against DuPont arising out of the release of toxic fumes from a chemical plant.

So far, the jury has awarded $1.25 million in compensatory damages and $12.5 million in punitive damages. But those awards are for only 6 of 179 plaintiffs. The other 173 cases remain to be tried. Apparently, the trial court has ordered that the liability findings from this trial will be binding in the subsequent trials. The subsequent trials will apparently focus only on causation and compensatory damages. Any plaintiff who recovers compensatory damages will automatically be entitled to a punitive damages award of ten times the amount of compensatory damages.

Based on the awards to the first 6 plaintiffs, this case is on pace to generate awards totaling $37.3 million in compensatory damages and $373 million in punitive damages.

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