January 8, 2010

Product Liability Verdicts Up, Punitive Damages Verdicts Down

This Bloomberg article reports that the biggest products liability verdicts got even bigger in 2009, with the top 5 verdicts totalling 52 percent more than the previous year. The article reports, however, that the incidence of huge punitive damages verdicts actually declined:

Last year did reveal some bright spots for corporate defendants with a continued decline in the size of punitive damage awards. Punitives, assessed in addition to compensatory damages, are meant to punish the company for bad conduct and serve as a warning to others. The 10 biggest punitive damages verdicts against corporations totaled less than $1 billion for the second straight year.

That's consistent with the trend in California, which also saw a decline in the largest punitive damages awards.