Theodore Boutrous Jr. of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher finds himself in the middle of a nationally watched punitive damages case after a closely divided Tennessee Supreme Court reversed a lower court and upheld a $13.4 million award to a mother whose infant son died in a 2001 car crash.

The ruling is the latest twist in a case that has seen various courts cut punitive damages against DaimlerChrysler Corp. from $98 million to $20 million, to $13.3 million, and finally to zero. But just when momentum was on the side of DCC and Gibson Dunn, the Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated the $13.3 million award last week.

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