October 28, 2011

Arkansas Supreme Court considers constitutionality of caps on punitive damages

Arkansas News reports that the Arkansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments yesterday in a case involving the constitutionality of a $1 million cap on punitive damages that the Arkansas legislature passed in 2003.  The question about the constitutionality of the cap arises in a case we reported about last year, in which a group of farmers sued Bayer CropScience for allowing genetically-modified rice to enter the American rice market, causing some nations to ban importation of American rice.  The jury awarded $42 million in punitive damages against Bayer, who asked the trial judge to reduce the award pursuant to the cap.  Instead, the judge ruled that the cap was unconstitutional.

By our count 31 states have caps on punitive damages, most of which have already been upheld in the face of legal changes.  Stay tuned on this one.