As soon as he heard the jury’s $4.45 million verdict in Brodbeck v. National Rifle Association, Senior U.S. District Judge Clarence C. Newcomer says, he knew he wasn’t going to let it stand.

It was simply much too much money, the judge now says, for a case in which the plaintiffs had only minimal injuries and the defendants’ conduct only barely met the level of reprehensibility for seeking punitive damages.