September 2, 2009

$25 Million in Punitive Damages Against Cuba

The Associated Press is reporting that a federal district judge in Miami has ordered Cuba to pay $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages to the mother of a journalist who has been imprisoned in Cuba since 2003.

The imposition of punitive damages against a foreign nation for acts that occurred outside the U.S. raises some interesting constitutional questions. But those questions won't be answered in this case because no one representing Cuba is defending this case. According to the AP story, the plaintiff is confident she'll be able to collect on this judgment, but she'll have to get in line behind the plaintiffs who obtained a $1 billion judgment against Cuba earlier this year.