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February 21, 2006

Top 100 Verdicts of 2005

The National Law Journal |Sub'n Req'd| has published their annual review of the 100 largest jury verdicts indicates that juries awarded $8.2 billion in compensatory and punitive damages last year, the lowest total since this survey began in 2001.  Compensatory awards have remained relatively constant over the five year period from 2001 through 2005, but punitive awards have varied dramatically declining from $36 billion in 2002 to $3.5 billion in 2005.  Another factor is the declining number of high-stakes cases that now make it to trial.  Jury trials now occur in fewer than 2% of all civil cases filed. 

The largest verdicts were in cases involving corporate wrongdoing.  Sixteen of the top 100 verdicts were in products liability cases.  Of these sixteen, eight verdicts were rendered in Texas.  Ford Motor Company has evidently decided to be aggressive and try many of its products liability cases as indicated by the fact that seven of these verdicts were against Ford.  The judgments in products liability cases ranged from $253.45 million in a Vioxx case (reduced under Texas' punitive damages statute to $26.1 million) to $20 million in a design defect case involving an unguarded control panel for a tumble blaster blamed for a crush injury to the operator.

The products liability cases are:

  • Ernst v. Merck & Co., Inc. (TX)

  • Interstate Southwest Ltd. v. Avco Corp. (TX)

  • Hall-Edwards v. Ford Motor Co. (FL)

  • Estate of Mohr v. Daimler-Chrysler Corp. (TX)

  • Jablonski v. Ford Motor Co. (IL)

  • Marroquin v. Ford Motor Co. (TX)

  • Burry v. General Motors Corp. (TX)

  • Garcia v. Ford Motor Co. (TX)

  • Mallia v. Bennett Auto Supply Inc. (FL)

  • Garcia v. Ford Motor Co. (TX)

  • Estate of Mikkolajczyk v. Ford Motor Co. (IL)

  • Behringer v. Alcoa Inc. (TX)

  • Smith v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. (MO)

  • Rose v. Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corp. (NY)

  • Valenti v. Ford Motor Co. (NJ)

  • Leyva v. Int'l. Surface Preparation Corp. (PA)


February 21, 2006 | Permalink


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