Florida Supreme Court Ruling ‘Guts the Impact of Punitive Damages’
“This ruling will not please the members of the plaintiffs bar but will provide comfort to those concerned about what they perceive to be ‘runaway’ jury verdicts,” said John Meagher, managing partner and chair of the insurance practice group at Shutts & Bowen.
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What You Need to Know
The Florida Supreme Court ruled on the Fifth District Court of Appeal's certified question.
The dissenting judge argued that the ruling would increase the likelihood that the losing party in a wrongful death action will plead remittitur.
The justices ruled that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was correct in challenging the jury verdict with a punitive damages to compensatory damages award exceeding the ratio of 3:1.
The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a trial judge in a wrongful-death action must use judicial discretion on whether a punitive damages award a jury returned is reasonable in comparison to both the compensatory damage award and the injury that the beneficiaries suffered.
The ruling was based on a question the Fifth District Court of Appeal certified.
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