Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Constitutionality of Punitive - Compensatory Damages Ratios Explored by Pennsylvania Superior Court

In the case of The Bert Co. v. Turk, No. 817 WDA 2019 (Pa. Super. May 5, 2021) (Op. by Kunselman, J.) (Collins, J., dissenting), the Pennsylvania Superior Court, in addressing an issue of first impression, rejected a Defendant’s claim that a $2.8 million dollar punitive damages award violated due process as the Pennsylvania Superior Court was persuaded by precedent that the computation of damages ratios on challenges to punitive damages awards in a multi-Defendant case should be on a per-Defendant basis, rather than by aggregating all compensatory and punitive damages on a per-judgment basis.

The Pennsylvania Superior Court additionally ruled that the United States Supreme Court had not established any bright-line ratio which a punitive damages award cannot exceed. As such, the court rejected the proposition that a punitive damages award was per se unconstitutional merely because it was over eleven (11) times greater than the compensatory damages awarded.

Anyone wishing to review the 94 page Majority Opinion may click this LINK.

The Dissenting Opinion can be viewed HERE.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 25, 2021).

Source of image: (Karolina Grabowska)

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