Thursday, April 30, 2015
Claire Lim (Cornell-Economics) has published Media Influence on Courts: Evidence from Civil Case Adjudication.
The study’s findings include:
- As the “liberalness” of a district increases, so too does the likelihood of higher civil trial awards. In other words, liberal districts tended to adjudicate larger final damage awards to plaintiffs. (This general finding is supported by other academic research, as well.)
- More specifically, a one standard deviation increase in the liberalness of political orientation in a district is associated with a 33% increase in the amount of final award in districts with average newspaper coverage.
- However, the influence of political orientation on final awards becomes smaller as media coverage increases.
- Neither the volume of media coverage alone, nor having elected judges, has a statistically significant impact on the amount of final award in civil adjudications.
- Coverage appears to have no statistically significant impact on plaintiff win rates — only on the amount of damage awards adjudicated.
Journalist's Resource has more details.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Late last month, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld the cap on damages for claims against local governments. The current cap is $200,000 per claim, with a maximum of $500,000 for any number of claims stemming from a single incident. The House passed a bill raising those limits to $300,000 and $600,000. Last week a Senate committee proposed raising the limits to $500,000 and $1,000,000. The full Senate will vote on Friday. Cecil Whig has the story.
Thursday, April 2, 2015
On Monday, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a cap on damages against local governments. A jury awarded $11.5M to the family of a man shot to death by police, and the family argued the cap was unconstitutional. The court rejected the challenge; the family will receive $400,000. The Baltimore Sun has the story.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Like many jurisdictions, Indiana has a tort claims act. Pursuant to Indiana's version, the maximum total payout to victims for any single event is $5M. In 2011, a stage at the Indiana State Fair collapsed; 62 victims have been paid damages from the incident. One of the injured, 10-years-old at the time, opted to sue the state. On Monday, an appellate court heard arguments that the cap is unconstitutional. In a filing, plaintiff's lawyers stated:
“The $5 million cap, both on its face and as applied, violates Plaintiff’s constitutional rights, which provides in relevant part [that] all courts shall be open, and every person for injury done to him and his person, property or reputation, shall have remedy by due course of law."
WISHTV.com has the story.
Thursday, October 9, 2014
A Milwaukee County circuit judge held the state's $750,000 cap on pain and suffering did not apply to a $25.3M verdict, including $15M of pain and suffering to her and $1.5M to her husband, for a woman who lost all 4 limbs due to septic infection. The court did not find the cap unconstitutional, but held there was no rational basis to apply it to this case. An appeal is expected. A Journal Times editorial in support of the judge's ruling is here.
Wednesday, January 29, 2014
Recently the New York Court of Appeals rejected medical monitoring. Behrens and Appel approve:
The New York Court of Appeals reached the right conclusion. For over 200 years, one of the fundamental principles of tort law has been that a plaintiff cannot recover without proof of a physical injury. This bright-line rule may seem harsh in some cases, but it is the best filter courts have developed to prevent a flood of claims, provide faster access to courts for those with reliable and serious claims, and ensure that the sick will not have to compete with the nonsick for compensation.
The full op-ed (behind a pay wall) is here.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Huff Post has a piece on the recovery of Chef Eduardo Garcia from injuries he received in a 2011 hunting accident. Garcia's left arm was amputated below the elbow and he now has a bionic hand. John Hochfelder, who blogs at NewYorkInjuryCasesBlog.com, represented Garcia in the tort case.
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Attorneys on both sides believe that a plaintiff's Twitter posts affected the damages that she received in a car accident case in Georgia state court. In her tweets, the plaintiff described an "epic weekend" in New Orleans, posted photos at the beach for spring break, and stated "I'm starting to love my scar," which both sides claim hurt her pain and suffering claim. The Daily Report has the full story.
Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Wednesday, September 5, 2012
In a federal case in Virginia, the number of"likes" an allegedly defamatory Facebook page received was admissible, but a punitive damages award was reduced. Peter Vieth of Virginia Lawyers Weekly has the story:
A federal judge says a dog trainer who claimed he was defamed by online accusations of animal abuse was entitled to tell a jury how many people “liked” the offending Facebook page, a federal judge has ruled.
Nevertheless, U.S. District Judge James Cacheris said the jury’s “grossly excessive” $60,000 punitive damages verdict in favor of the dog trainer should be cut by three quarters. Cacheris says the defendant can either accept the reduction of punitives to $15,000 or take a new trial.
The full story is here.
Monday, August 6, 2012
In a decision issued July 31st, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the state's statutory cap on non-economic damages as violating the Missouri state constitution. Specifically, the court found that the cap violated the right to a trial by jury. A copy of the decision is available here (pdf).
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
A Colorado judge has awarded $65,000 for the negligent death of the plaintiff's 18-month old dog. A cleaning service mistakenly let the dog out, where she was hit by a car. The dog crawled back into the house, and the cleaning service left the dying dog - knowing it had been hit - under the dining room table, where the owner found her dead upon returning 2 hours later.
Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.
Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Cathy Sharkey (NYU) has posted to SSRN Economic Analysis of Punitive Damages: Theory, Empirics, and Doctrine. The abstract provides:
This chapter — to be included in Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts (Arlen ed., Kluwer, forthcoming 2012) — assesses economic rationales for punitive damages in light of contemporary empirics and doctrine. The primary economic rationale for supra-compensatory damages is optimal deterrence (or loss internalization): when compensatory damages alone will not induce an actor to take cost-justified safety precautions, then supra-compensatory damages are necessary to force the actor to internalize the full scope of the harms caused by his actions. Alternative economic rationales — disgorgement of ill-gotten gains and enforcement of property rights — have been proposed to align the theory with the historical and conventional focus of punitive damages on intentionally wrongful behavior.
Notwithstanding its academic prominence, the economic deterrence rationale has not dominated doctrine. In fact, the U.S. Supreme Court has all but rejected economic deterrence, by instead placing increasing emphasis on a competing retributive punishment rationale. But, since punitive damages lie squarely within the purview of state law, state legislatures and courts possess a degree of freedom to articulate state-based goals of punitive damages — such as economic deterrence — even in the face of heavy-handed federal constitutional review imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Courthouse News Service reports on an interesting case out of Texas, Medlen v. Strickland (pdf). In Medlen, the Texas Court of Appeals "ruled that the owners of a mistakenly euthanized dog can sue to recover the sentimental value of their lost pet, reversing and remanding the ruling of a trial court."
Animal Law Blog also have coverage
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Monday, November 7, 2011
An 87-year-old woman died shortly after entering a Charleston, WV nursing home. The nursing home has been hit with a $91.5 million jury verdict. At least 2 issues may be taken up on appeal. First, WV has a med mal cap that limits recovery of non-economic damages to $500,000. The jury found that only a small part of the negligence was "medical." Instead, the largest part of the negligence was the failure to provide basic necessities such as food and water. Second, in an attempt to earn punies, the plaintiff's lawyer informed the jury that the nursing home's parent corporation earned $4 billion last year. However, that figure was gross earnings; the parent corporation's taxable income last year was $75 million. WVGazette.com has the details.
Monday, October 24, 2011
In In re Hannaford Bros. Co. Customer Data Security Breach Litig. (pdf), the First Circuit reversed the dismissal of negligence and implied contract claims against Hannaford Supermarkets by customers who were victims of a data breach. The court found that "plaintiffs' reasonably foreseeable mitigation costs constitute a cognizable harm under Maine law." Specifically, the court found that the purchase of identity theft insurance and replacement card fees constituted harm.
Thanks to Lisa Smith-Butler for the alert.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Most people know that a stage collapsed during the Indiana State Fair, killing several people. Not surprisingly, survivors of the victims have filed suit. One suit challenges both Indiana's $5 million total cap on damages in claims seeking damages from the state and seeks to make damages available for surviving same-sex partners. (Indiana does not recognize same-sex marriage.)