TortsProf Blog

Editor: Christopher J. Robinette
Widener Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

$24M Med Mal Verdict In Tennessee

A Tennessee jury has awarded nearly $24 million in a breast cancer misdiagnosis suit.   AboutLawsuits has more.


July 22, 2009 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

MI Court: Damages for Caring for Kids Uncapped

A divided Michigan Supreme Court has allowed to stand a ruling that a dead mother's family can sue for $1.4 M for lost household services.  The defendants argued the damages were noneconomic and, thus, subject to a damages cap.  I haven't read the opinion, and I can't vouch for the valuation, but the principle seems accurate.  Replacing these services will require a monetary payment.  The Chicago Tribune has a brief story here.


July 9, 2009 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, April 13, 2009

LA Times on Punitives

In an editorial, the LAT calls on the Supreme Court to give better guidance on punitive damages, saying the state of law today has "wasted the time of lawyers, judges and injured parties, and sometimes has led to injustices."


April 13, 2009 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Williams v. Philip Morris Cert. Grant Withdrawn as Improvidently Granted

Per curiam opinion here, some analysis here.


March 31, 2009 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Punitives Considered in Clerical Abuse Case

In a case where the punitive damages were over $7 million, the Church contends that the court improperly instructed the jury, permitting an award of punitive damages without a finding of bad motive.  Details are here.


March 26, 2009 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Recent Pain-and-Suffering Awards

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hess Lawyers Seek $130M+ in Tobacco Case

The AP has details; $100M of the amount sought is punitive damages.  The jury found causation in an earlier phase of the trial, and the since-decertified class action established in Florida that the tobacco companies hid risks of smoking.


February 18, 2009 in Damages, MDLs and Class Actions, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 9, 2009

Updated: First Post-Engle Trial Begins

A few years ago, the Florida Supreme Court threw out a $145 billion class verdict against various members of the tobacco industry.  Now, as Sheila noted in last week's roundup, the first Florida trial post-Engle has begun; Bloomberg has a somewhat more detailed piece on the trial's start.  In the trial, the plaintiffs do get to take advantage of the preclusive effect of the class finding that cigarettes are addictive and cause cancer. 

The trial is in three parts, with the first focusing on liability; the second (if needed) on compensatory damages and the availability of punitive damages; and the third (again if needed) on the amount of punitive damages.

Update: In case you're particularly interested in the case, you can watch it live (for a charge) at


February 9, 2009 in Damages, MDLs and Class Actions, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (1)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Pain-and-Suffering Awards for Hip and Pelvis Injuries

Over at New York Injury Cases Blog, John Hochfelder has an intriguing post demonstrating the variability of pain-and-suffering awards for hip and pelvis injuries.


February 7, 2009 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hochfelder Surveys NY Foot Fracture Verdicts

Over at New York Injury Cases Blog, John Hochfelder surveys verdicts and settlements in recent foot injury cases (excluding amputations).  Hochfelder finds a wide range from a low of $75,000 to a high of $2.2 million.   He attributes the disparity to the nature of the injury - the $75k for example was for an injured pinky toe while the $2.2 million was for a crushed foot requiring complex reconstruction surgery. 


January 20, 2009 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

No Health Effects, but Punitives Possible Against 3M on Trespass and Negligence

The Star Tribune has details on the trial court ruling relating to PFCs in the groundwater in Washington County, Minnesota.  Essentially, the plaintiffs can't go forward with claims that the PFCs harmed their health, but can proceed on a trespass claim and a (slightly vague from the story) negligence claim, and have the potential to obtain punitive damages on those claims.


January 3, 2009 in Current Affairs, Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Liptak on Williams v. Philip Morris



December 11, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Med Mal & Punitive Damages

An article posted on drew a response on, pointing out some misconceptions about punitive damages and medical malpractice.

(h/t Eric Turkewitz)


December 9, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

First Payments in Valdez Litigation

Only nearly twenty years after the oil spill, plaintiffs are starting to get damages.


December 6, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Williams Punitives, Round Three

SCOTUSBlog has a preview of Wednesday's argument -- the third! -- relating to the Oregon state court tort litigation against Philip Morris and the punitive damages awarded in that litigation.


December 2, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Exxon Damages Inching Ever Closer to, You Know, Plaintiffs

The federal judge overseeing the eternal Exxon Valdez litigation rejected a request to modify the plan for distribution of punitive damages, a portion of which will -- maybe, perhaps, soon -- be distributed to plaintiffs while the parties continue to fight over some remaining parts.


November 16, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

9th Circuit Imposes 3 to 1 Ratio on Punitive Damages Award

On Friday, the Ninth Circuit issued its opinion in Southern Union v. Irvin (pdf).  The court previously had vacated and remanded the original punitive award, which was 153 times the compensatories.   On remand, the trial court reduced the punitive damages award to $4 million, and the defendant appealed again.   Notably, this time, the Ninth Circuit wasn't messing around - no remand; it decided that 3 to 1 was the right ratio and reduced the punitive damages award to just over $1.8 million.   

Lisa Baird at Life Sciences Legal Update provides a concise summary of the decision. 


November 12, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Punitives Rejected in Taser Death

According to a press release issued by TASER, although it was found 15% responsible for the death of a man tasered by police, the judge, on post-trial motions, vacated the jury's grant of punitive damages.  An earlier story on the verdict is available here [PDF], and this page has a lot of Taser-related stories (from a very anti-Taser standpoint).


October 27, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

$16.2 Million Default Award in Hazing Death Lawsuit

The family of a Marietta, Georgia, college student, Tyler Cross, who died in an alleged frat hazing at the University of Texas was awarded $16.2 million in a default judgment against the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.

Cross, a 2006 Lovett School graduate, fell from the fifth floor of a dormitory during freshman pledge week in the run-up to SAE’s renowned “Jungle Party.” Texas law-enforcement officials discovered that Cross and other pledges had been given half-gallon liquor bottles to drink the night before he died.

Cross’ blood-alcohol level registered 0.19 at the time of his death, more than double the legal driving limit in Texas, after a week of sleep deprivation from hazing, according to the lawsuit.

It's not entirely clear why there was a default judgment; the fraternity exists and blames the default on an administrative error.  They are seeking to remove the default and defend the suit.  A suit against the alumni advisory group and the housing corporation is pending as well.


October 26, 2008 in Damages | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Confidentiality in Settlements

There's a new RAND paper at SSRN, written by James Anderson of that organization, discussing a situation in which not requiring (indeed, not permitting) confidentiality in settling mass tort cases may be beneficial to defendants.  His case study is of the Baycol litigation.  The abstract:

Settlement agreements that require a plaintiff not to disclose or publicize any information about her claim are both common and controversial. Under some conditions, however, a mass tort defendant will rationally choose to discourage such secrecy. A defendant can use publicity to act as a commitment device akin to a most-favored-nation agreement to increase its bargaining power with plaintiffs. The paper uses the real world example of Bayer's cerivastatin litigation as a case study to illustrate this theory in practice and to explore the public policy implications of this finding.

(I was a defense lawyer for Bayer in the Baycol litigation but had no involvement in this paper.)


October 20, 2008 in Damages, Legislation, Reforms, & Political News, Products Liability | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)