June 14, 2013

9th Circuit hears oral arguments in punitive damages case where jury awarded no compensatory damages

Today's Recorder has a story on an interesting punitive damages case pending before the Ninth Circuit.

In a sexual harassment case (Aguilar v. ASARCO), the jury awarded $0 in compensatory damages, $1 in nominal damages, and $868,750 in punitive damages.  The district court reduced the punitive damages to $300,000 and the defendant appealed, challenging that amount as excessive.  Oral argument was held on Wednesday.  As Scott Graham of the Recorder reports, Judges O'Scannlain and Hurwitz jousted with counsel over how to apply the single-digit-ratio rubric of BMW and State Farm to the facts of this case.  Stay tuned.  This is the sort of case in which the losing side might seek certiorari.