December 22, 2009

A Quiet Year for Blockbuster Punitive Damages in California

Bruce Nye at Cal Biz Lit has prepared a chart showing a breakdown of the compensatory damages and punitive damages awarded in the top ten verdicts in California in 2009 (as reported by the Recorder's Legal Pad). As Bruce notes, only three of the top 10 verdicts included punitive damages, and none of them include a "blockbuster" award (i.e., an award in excess of $100 million).

As we observed in this post, a recent study shows that California leads the nation with 25 blockbuster punitive damages verdicts since 1985. That works out to roughly one per year, so a single year without such an award isn't all that surprising. We'll have to see what the next few years bring. Even if turns out that California juries have stopped dishing out blockbuster punitive awards, we'll still have those "garden variety" 8-digit punitive damages awards to blog about. (Though we won't be blogging much about the $50 million punitive damages award on top of the 2009 list, since our firm is representing the defendant in that case.)