Punitive Damages Shrink as High Court Reins in Trial Lawyers

Trial Gavel

As can be seen in this latest Bloomberg post, the recent changes in punitive damage settlements cases has had a profound impact on civil and tort litigations around the country. From Ford motor company settlements to the Exxon Valdez, this is a watershed moment in the world of serious injury law and civil litigation. Read more here.


Jan. 15 (Bloomberg) — A U.S. court crackdown on punitive damages resulted in the second consecutive year of declines and reversals of earlier verdicts, a trend working in favor of companies like Ford Motor Co.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker in the past five years has been hit with more than $392 million in punitive awards. Limits on such damages have given Ford victories in appeals of two decisions totaling more than $100 million and may help it in hundreds of other product-liability suits. Click here for more.

Punitive damages in the 50 biggest verdicts fell to $1.6 billion in 2007 from $1.8 billion in 2006 and $5 billion in 2005, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A pivotal U.S. Supreme Court decision last year will aid in appeals and help reduce future awards, companies’ lawyers say. The court said defendants can’t be punished for harming anyone not included in a case, such as other customers.