January 02, 2013
Tweets Affect Damages in Georgia Car Accident Case
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.
October 11, 2012
5th Circuit Asks for Supplemental Briefs in Mississippi Non-Economic Damages Cap Case
The Fifth Circuit has asked for supplement briefs in a case addressing the constitutionality of Mississippi's $1 million cap on non-economic damages. The Mississippi Press has more.
September 05, 2012
VA: Facebook "Likes" Admissible, But Defamation Punies Award Cut
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.
August 06, 2012
Missouri Supreme Court Holds Cap on Non-Economic Damages Violates State Constitution
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).
June 06, 2012
NY: Nonpecuniary Damages Not Available for Legal Malpractice
So held the Court of Appeals in Dombrowki v. Bulson (pdf) (at least against criminal defense attorneys).
Thanks to Mark Weber for the tip.
April 23, 2012
Judge Awards $65k Damages for Loss of Pet
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.
January 25, 2012
Sharkey on Economic Analysis of Punitive Damages
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.
January 19, 2012
Licari on Enforcing Punitive Damage Awards in France after Fountaine Pajot
November 22, 2011
Recovery of Sentimental Value of Pets
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
November 15, 2011
Challenges to State Punitive Damages Caps
California Punitive Damages Blog reports that both the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Missouri Supreme Court are considering challenges to the legislative caps on punitive damages in those states.
November 07, 2011
WV Nursing Home Verdict: $91.5M
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.
October 24, 2011
First Circuit Reverses Dismissal of Data Breach Case
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.
September 28, 2011
Indiana Stage Collapse Leads to Lawsuit, Challenges
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.)
Intermediate Appellate Court Upholds Damages Cap in California
I missed it earlier this month, but an intermediate appellate court in California upheld a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice claims.
August 25, 2011
Second-Hand Smoke Case Continues Against Housing Cooperative, Sans Punitives Claim
A resident of Greenbelt Homes in Maryland filed suit against the housing cooperative for failing to prevent his exposure to his neighbors' second-hand smoke. The trial started on Monday and, while the negligence claim is continuing, the judge did dismiss the claim for punitive damages.
August 08, 2011
Dead Men Can't Be Sued for Punitive Damages
The Iowa Supreme Court has reaffirmed its long standing rule (dating back to 1884) prohibiting punitive damages claims against deceased individuals. The court reasoned that awarding punitive damages against an estate does not serve the purposes of punitive damages, which the court identified as (1) punishment, (2) specific deterrence, and (3) general deterrence. Iowa's decision follows the majority rule on this issue. (The opinion helpfully includes footnotes and citations discussing the majority/minority breakdown).
Thanks to How Appealing for the info.
July 21, 2011
A Rebuttal to the Atlantic Amtrak Piece
Yesterday Chris posted a link to an Atlantic piece, written by Andrew Cohen, critical of the cap on damages in railroad accident cases. Ted Frank has some pointed criticisms that are worth reading as well.
July 20, 2011
Atlantic Article on Damage Caps in Amtrak Reform Act
The anti-cap article, written by Andrew Cohen, discusses the 2008 train crash in Chatsworth, CA caused by a texting engineer. Cohen quotes portions of Superior Court Judge Peter Lichtman's opinion as he divides the $200M capped damages among the victims, including 24 fatalities.
June 24, 2011
WV Reaffirms Constitutionality of Noneconomic Damages Cap in Med Mal Cases
The opinion is here: Download 35543.
Thanks to Mark Behrens for the tip.
June 21, 2011
NYC Paid $521 Million in 2010 Settlements
Bloomberg Business Week (AP) reports that New York City paid about $521 million in 2010 to settle personal injury and property damages suits. The Police Department, Department of Transportation and Health & Hospital Corp. had the most settlements in 2010.