Punitive Damages Strategy Forum Webinar: The Ratio Guidepost: Recurring Issues
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The United States Supreme Court has observed that "the most commonly cited indicium of an unreasonable or excessive punitive damages award is its ratio to the actual harm inflicted on the plaintiff." And it has provided increasingly specific guidance about the permissible ratio of punitive to compensatory damages. Yet the lower courts remain divided on numerous recurring issues relating to the application of this "ratio guidepost."
Topics discussed during this one-hour webinar included:
- Procedural and substantive arguments against the inclusion of "potential harm" in the denominator of the ratio;
- Arguments against including attorneys' fees in the denominator of the ratio;
- Application of the ratio guidepost in multiple-defendant cases;
- The relationship between the amount of compensatory damages and the maximum constitutionally permissible ratio;
- Arguments for drawing the line at 1:1 or lower;
- Exxon Shipping's applicability outside the maritime context;
- The relationship between reprehensibility and the maximum constitutionally permissible ratio;
- Ratios in class actions; and
- Application of the ratio guidepost in cases involving conduct that injured multiple non-party victims.
Evan Tager and C.J. Summers presented the webinar. Evan is co-chair of our Supreme Court & Appellate group. He has represented clients in dozens of cases involving large punitive awards and has written many briefs addressing issues relating to the ratio guidepost. C.J. is a senior associate in our Supreme Court & Appellate group. He too has extensive experience briefing issues relating to the ratio guidepost.