August 7, 2018

North Carolina awards $450 million in punitive damages, but award is capped under state law

Associated Press reports (via WLOS.com) that a North Carolina jury last week awarded $23.5 million in compensatory damages and $450 million punitive damages in a nuisance case against Smithfield Foods, which operates a major hog farming operation near the plaintiffs' property.

If that sounds familiar, it's because we blogged about a very similar case a few months ago.

The $450 million number will be reduced under North Carolina law, which caps punitive damages at the greater of $250,000 or three times the amount of compensatory damages.  The plaintiffs in the prior case challenged the constitutionality of that statute, but lost that argument