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Modesto Contamination Punitive Verdict In: Big Numbers, But Not Likely To Last

MIPTC predicted more lawsuits, and it turned out to be true.  Now, a jury has given the City of Modesto a temporary receivable of $175 million in punitive damages for perchloroethlyene contamination in the City's groundwater.  The original jury award was just over $3.1 million to clean up the contamination.  They City had asked for $4 million against chemical manufacturers Dow and Vulcan

I say temporary because the punitive damages award is about 55 times higher than the compensatory damages.  Relatively recent Supreme Court rulings established a 9:1 limit for punitive damages, so it's likely that the trial court will reduce the punitive damage award. If not there, then on appeal, which is sure to follow a verdict of this sort. 

This first-of-its-kind verdict is unusual in that it appears that the jury disregarded Dow and Vulcan's arguments asserting state-of-the-art defenses for the level of knowledge that existed when the chemicals were being used and warnings provided by the manufacturers.  Predicting an appeal is a gimme, but MIPTC won't go out on a limb to predict the outcome.  I'll keep you posted, however.   

Printer friendly page Permalink Email to a friend Posted by J. Craig Williams on Tuesday, June 13, 2006 at 19:40 Comments Closed (0) |
 
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