July 20, 2010

Belk v. Electra Cruises: Court of Appeal Affirms Trial Court's Reduction of Punitive Damages to 1 to 1 Ratio

Both the defendant and the plaintiff lose in this unpublished opinion.

The plaintiff prevailed at trial on a wrongful termination claim and won $80,000 in compensatory damages and $225,000 in punitive damages. The trial court reduced the punitive damages to $80,000 (a 1 to 1 ratio). Both sides appealed. The plaintiff sought reinstatement of the jury's award, and the defendant argued that the $80,000 was still excessive.

The Court of Appeal (Fourth Appellate District, Division Three) rejected both appeals and affirmed the $80,000 punitive damages award. Even though both parties lost their respective appeals, the court apparently viewed the plaintiff as the prevailing party on appeal, because the court awarded the plaintiff her costs on appeal.