April 13, 2012

Court of Appeal wipes out $207 million punitive damages award in Boeing case

In 2008 we reported on a massive $237 million punitive damages award in Los Angeles against The Boeing Company and its subsidiary, Boeing Satellite Systems. The trial court (Judge Emilie Elias) reduced the punitive damages to $207 million, resulting in a judgment of $577 million in combined compensatory and punitive damages, plus more than $35 million in prejudgment interest.  As we noted in our original post, that punitive damages award would have been #6 on the list of the largest punitive damages awards to survive appeal in U.S. history.

It didn't survive appeal.  In this unpublished opinion (Boeing Satellite Sytems Int'l v. ICO Global Communications et al), the California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Eight) reversed the judgment and directed the trial court to enter judgment in Boeing's favor.  The court never reached any of the punitive damages issues because it determined that Boeing couldn't be liable on any cause of action.  That's a huge win for Boeing and its counsel at Munger Tolles.