February 19, 2015

West Virginia senate passes bill capping punitive damages

The Register-Herald of Beckley West Virginia is reporting this morning that the West Virginia state senate has passed a bill that would cap punitive damages at four times compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater.

The bill enjoyed broad bipartisan support, with all but a handful of Democrats voting in favor of the proposal.  An earlier proposal that would have placed the cap a little lower, at three times compensatory damages, failed by a narrow vote yesterday.

If this bill becomes law, it would be a major change to the civil litigation climate in West Virginia.  That state has dished out some colossal punitive damages awards in recent years, reaching into the hundreds of millions of dollars.