September 28, 2017

Dallas jury awards $4 billion in punitive damages against JPMorgan Chase

The Dallas Business Journal reports that a jury has awarded $4.6 million in compensatory damages and $4 billion in punitive damages against JPMorgan Chase in a probate case.  According to the story, the plaintiffs claimed that JPMorgan fraudulently and maliciously mishandled the estate of American Airlines executive Max Hopper.

This wildly excessive award cannot possibly survive post-trial and appellate review.  An 870-to-one ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages raises obvious constitutional excessiveness problems.  Aside from that, a Texas statute caps punitive damages at the greater of (1) $200,000 or (2) two times the amount of economic damages; plus an amount equal to any noneconomic damages found by the jury, not to exceed $750,000.

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