December 11, 2020

Court of Appeal reverses $6 million punitive damages award in products liability case (Soulliere v. Suzuki)

This unpublished Court of Appeal opinion doesn't directly address any punitive damages issues, but is noteworthy because it wipes out a substantial punitive damages award.

The plaintiff was involved in an accident while riding a Suzuki motorcycle.  He sued Suzuki, claiming the motorcycle's brakes were defective, and persuaded a jury to award $1.7 million in compensatory damages and $6 million in punitive damages.

The Court of Appeal (Fourth District, Division Three) reversed.  The court concluded that the plaintiff failed to introduce sufficient evidence that the accident resulted from a defect in the motorcycle, and that the trial court made multiple evidentiary and instructional errors. Accordingly, the court vacated the entire judgment including the punitive damages.