December 21, 2009

Texas Jury Awards $100 Million in Punitive Damages Against BP

I will go out on a limb and predict that this award won't hold up. As reported by the Associated Press, a jury in federal district court in Texas has awarded $100 million in punitive damages to 10 workers at a BP plant who claimed they were exposed to toxic fumes.

Why do I say the award won't hold up? Because the jury awarded $10 million in punitive damages to each plaintiff, but awarded only $5,000 to $10,000 in compensatory damages to nine of the ten plaintiffs, and $240,000 or so to the remaining plaintiff. That means the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages is somewhere between 10,000 to 1 and 20,000 to 1 for nine of the plaintiffs, and 42 to 1 for the other plaintiff.