December 21, 2012

Italian Supreme Court confirms that it will not enforce U.S. judgments containing punitive damages

Mondaq reports that Italy's Supreme Court, the Court of Cassazione, has reaffirmed that it will not enforce U.S. judgments containing punitive damages.

Back in 2007, in Parrott v. Soc. Fimez., the Court of Cassazione ruled that an Alabama judgment containing punitive damages was unenforceable in Italy, because punitive damages are incompatible with Italy's public policy. 

This case, Ruffinatti v. Oyola-Rosado, involved a Massachusetts judgment.  According to the Mondaq story, the judgment on its face did not include punitive damages.  But the Italian Supreme Court apparently concluded that the $8 million compensatory damages was so large, and so disconnected from the plaintiff's actual injuries, that it must be punitive in nature.  Accordingly, the court refused to enforce the judgment under the reasoning set forth in Parrott.

Related post:

Law Review Article: "Recognition and Enforcement of U.S. Punitive Damages Awards in Continental Europe: The Italian Supreme Court's Veto"