March 31, 2011

Law professors' $5 million punitive damages award cut to $220,000

Last December we reported on a $5 million punitive damages award in favor of two law professors against West Publishing.  The professors, as you may recall, were the authors of a West treatise on criminal procedure.  They won the big punitive award (along with $180,000 in compensatory damages) based on allegations that West wrongly identified them as the authors of shoddy updates to the treatise.

Predictably, that punitive award did not survive post-trial review.  The trial court has issued an order (link via Courthouse news) finding that the award is excessive and that the professors must choose between a new trial or a remittitur of the total punitive damages to $220,000.

UPDATE:  The original post erroneously reported that the trial court ordered a remittitur of the punitive damages to $400,000.  The correct figure is $220,000 (for a total award of $400,000 including the compensatory damages).  The text of the post has been corrected.