Three years ago, when a team of plaintiffs lawyers led by John O’Quinn of Houston tried a fen-phen suit in a Beaumont, Texas, courtroom and won a $1 billion verdict, including $900 million in punitive damages, products liability lawyers on both sides of the docket took notice of the record-setting award.

Defendant pharmaceutical company Wyeth, based in Madison, N.J., appealed the $1.01 billion judgment that 172nd District Judge Donald Floyd of Beaumont had signed in one family’s fen-phen case in May 2004. The appeal was noteworthy because of the judgment’s astounding size and because the appeal would have tested Texas’ statutory cap limiting punitive damages.

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