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Welcome to The Recorder‘s annual Big Verdicts special report. This is the third time we’ve put a spotlight on plaintiffs counsel and their biggest days in court over the past year. To that end, you’ll find a chart detailing the 20 biggest verdicts in California for 2003. As freelance reporter Don Frances observes this year’s verdicts were smaller on average than last year, when 11 verdicts clocked in at $50 million or more. This year only six verdicts surpassed the $50 million mark. The lawyers interviewed for the story trace the trend to the U.S. Supreme Court’s April 2003 ruling in State Farm Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, 123 S.Ct. 1513, which placed strict limits on punitive damage awards. Although the ruling typically doesn’t come into play until post-trial motions, it clearly has influenced the amounts plaintiffs counsel will ask from juries. And by making national headlines with its criticism of outsized punitive damage awards, the court may have influenced jurors themselves. When a verdict makes headlines, it’s usually because a large sum of money is involved. But when a high-exposure case results in no award whatsoever, that’s a big verdict too — for the defense. So, we also take a look at some big defense verdicts, from California and all over the country. We are indebted to two sister publications for this special report. All of the data on California verdicts originated with VerdictSearch California, which is based in San Diego and can be accessed online at www.verdictsearch.com. Plaintiffs and defense counsel are encouraged to report their verdicts to VerdictSearch by calling (800) 445-6823, or by downloading forms at www.therecorder.com/verdicts.html. In addition, we have relied on National Law Journal , an American Lawyer Media affiliate based in New York, for its coverage of the biggest defense verdicts around the country. It’s important to note that the list that begins on page 5 is based on the amount originally awarded by the jury. In some cases the awards have been reduced substantially by the trial judge, or the case has settled for a lesser amount. Other cases are on appeal. We have endeavored to provide brief updates on the status of each case, which you’ll find in the right-hand column of each chart. We hope you’ll enjoy this special report. Please e-mail me any feedback you may have, at [email protected] Scott Graham Editor in Chief

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