US District Judge Carl Barbier, who oversees multistate litigation over the spill, agreed with Transocean that the Swiss driller was not responsible for compensatory damage
claims raised by third parties for oil spilled below the ocean surface.
The latter belong in the category of non-economic or general compensatory damages
, as are hedonic damages that address the value of a life lost or truncated.
BMW appealed, contending that the 1,000-to-1 ratio of punitive to compensatory damages
violated due process.
This, however, puts the company in the untenable posture of claiming that, for economic losses, the CWA somehow preempts punitive damages, but not compensatory damages
ATLA's amicus brief by Senior Litigation Counsel Jeffrey White argues that because compensatory damages
often do not reflect actual harm (due to damages caps, limits on wrongful death damages, and so forth), the historic policy that punitives served requires courts to focus on actual harm rather than follow arbitrary ratios.
Haslip (4) the Court had concluded that punitive awards of more than four times the amount of compensatory damages
"might be close to the line of constitutional impropriety," and that the 4:1 ratio had been cited in BMW of North America Inc.
A recent subcommittee hearing focused on the court's indication that punitive damages could be limited by establishing a ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages
in the single digits.
5 million on top of $800,000 in compensatory damages
to the family of Jesse Williams, a longtime Marlboro smoker - a ratio of more than 99 to 1.
In addition to the compensatory damages
Gambro expected additional expenses of approximately USD2m.
The second tier is limited to $4 million or four times the amount of compensatory damages
, whichever is greater, if the defendant's wrongful conduct was motivated solely by unreasonable financial gain, and the unreasonably dangerous nature of the conduct was actually known by the managing agent or officer.
Plaintiff's counsel took the case on a fully contingent basis, and expended well over $1 million dollars [sic] in time and expenses on a case in which, as plaintiff's counsel puts it, `[a]nticipated compensatory damages
were not necessarily substantial, and the availability of punitive damages was purely speculative.
The Court noted that the Civil Rights Act of 1991 provides victims of intentional discrimination the right "to a jury trial, at which it may recover compensatory damages
for future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life and other nonpecuniary losses, as well as punitive damages.