A judge in a California case has told the parties to a lawsuit that she intends to reduce a May 19, 2019 $2 billion punitive damage award for RoundUp to $250 million. As it turns out, it’s an interesting case of compensatory vs punitive damages. Also, this is not unusual, and may actually be required by law.
In 1996, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Gore vs BMW of North America that, “… punitive damages must bear a ‘reasonable relationship’ to compensatory damages.” Otherwise, the award will violate the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Compensatory vs Punitive Damage Award Ratios
In the BMW case, the Supreme Court struck down a verdict that awarded a 1 to 500 ratio of compensatory vs punitive damages. It noted that an award with a ratio of punitive to compensatory damages of 4 to 1 to be constitutional.
Another case suggested that the ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages should not be more than 10 to 1.
In the California RoundUp case, the $2 billion punitive award was over 36 times higher than the $55 million compensatory award. By reducing the punitive award to $250 million, the judge was adjusting it to the ratio of less than 5 to 1. That makes sense as it falls within the range discussed in the United States Supreme Court opinion.
How could this affect you, and why should you care? Read my blost post around punitive damages.
Got more questions around compensatory or punitive damages as they relate to your own accident?
Gary R. Johnson Law is here to help answer your questions or represent you – so call us for a free consultation today!