December 18, 2013

Court of Appeal affirms $30 million punitive damages award - the third largest to survive appeal in California (Asahi v. Actelion)

This published opinion by the California Court of Appeal (First Appellate District, Division Five) affirms a judgment consisting of $377 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages.  The punitive damages award, although small in comparison to the compensatory damages, appears to be the third largest punitive damages award to survive appeal in California.  The punitive damages portion of the opinion, however, is unpublished.

Here's our updated list of the largest awards that our appellate courts have ever affirmed:

1. Buell-Wilson v. Ford (2008) [depublished]: $55 million

2. Boeken v. Philip Morris (2005) 127 Cal.App.4th 1640: $50 million

3.  Asahi Kasei Pharma Corporation v. Actelion Ltd. (2013) ___ Cal.App.4th ____: $30 million

4. Rufo v. Simpson (2001) 86 Cal.App.4th 573: $25 million

5. Vann v. Travelers (1998) [unpublished]: $25 million

I'm swamped with other work right now, but I hope to make time to write a further post analyzing the substance of this opinion.  In the meantime, for further reading about this case, see this November 8 story in The RecorderWith Appeal Pending, Gloves Come Off in Pharmaceutical Feud (subscription required).