February 1, 2010

Daily Journal Reports Decline in Punitive Damages Awards

Those of you with an online subscription to the Los Angeles & San Francisco Daily Journal can check out an article entitled "Blockbuster Punitive Awards Fell Off in 2009" in the Jan. 27 edition.

The article refers to a paper we blogged about last year, showing that California leads the nation in "blockbuster" punitive damages awards (awards over $100 million). The DJ article notes we had no blockbuster awards last year. In fact, the largest punitive damages award in California last year was "only" $50 million, in Auerbach v. Daily. As I noted in this post, however, we average about one blockbuster award per year, so a single year without such an award does not seem statistically significant. It hasn't even been a year and half since our last blockbuster (a $237 million punitive damages award in October 2008), so we can't declare the blockbuster dead just yet.