Finding that a jury’s verdict was “clearly excessive under constitutional standards,” a Madera County, Calif., judge recently wiped out most of a $25 million award in an employment discrimination case against a tobacco company.

Judge James Oakley said in a Dec. 26 order that punitive damages for two plaintiffs who worked at a subsidiary of Universal Corp. must be limited to about $1.25 million. The superior court judge let stand the compensatory damages totaling just over $200,000.

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