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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Japanese Court Rejects Punitives Award

The Yokohama District Court rejected a request for punitive damages in a design defect case involving a wheel coming off a Mitsubishi large truck.  Of note, the decision is a rejection of the concept of punitive damages more generally (there is evidently no precedent for them) just simply the rejection in this case:

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Yamamoto said in the decision, "The imposition of punitive damages, which is aimed at punishing an offender, is not congruous to our country's legal system," noting that the purpose of compensation in a damages suit is to cover losses suffered.

It's the sort of case that, at least on what's mentioned in the article, would be rather likely to result in punitives here:

The ruling said the wheel which came off the Mitsubishi trailer hit the woman who was walking together with her two children on a sidewalk in Seya Ward, Yokohama, on Jan. 10, 2002.

Mitsubishi's failure to fix the defect in the vehicle for a long time despite being aware of it was "extremely heinous," the decision said.

Mitsubishi had feared a possible decline in its corporate image and further losses if it had recalled vehicles from the market, the ruling said. "The result was serious," it added.

The maker covered up information on its vehicle defects and made false reports to the government over a period of more than 20 years, it said.

Executives have also been charged criminally.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/tortsprof/2006/04/japanese_court_.html

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