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Punitive Damages

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NEWS
May 21, 1996 | By Aaron Epstein, INQUIRER WASHINGTON BUREAU This article contains information from the Associated Press
Businesses eager to cut the multimillion-dollar costs of consumer lawsuits won a major victory yesterday when the Supreme Court for the first time invalidated a state punitive-damage award as unconstitutionally excessive. The justices, dividing 5-4, concluded that an Alabama doctor unhappy with the undisclosed repainting job on his new BMW sedan did not deserve a $2 million punitive award from the manufacturer. The award was so big - 500 times the value of the doctor's actual damages - that it violated constitutional limits of fairness, Justice John Paul Stevens declared for the court.
NEWS
June 22, 1987 | By Judge Arlin M. Adams
An important subject facing the press and the judicial system today is the extent that the First Amendment prohibits or limits punitive damages in defamation actions. An appropriate answer must strike a balance between the indispensable role of the free press in our democracy, and the interest in redressing injury to a citizen's reputation. Freedom of the press is enshrined in the First Amendment by the deceptively simple declaration that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . . " This constitutional command, I suggest, is indispensable for an effective democracy.
NEWS
December 6, 1988 | By Aaron Epstein, Inquirer Washington Bureau Inquirer wire services contributed to this article
An insurance company refused to pay a $20,000 benefit to a Mississippi man whose leg was amputated. A jury later sided with the amputee, awarded the $20,000 - and added $1.6 million to punish the firm for what it said was misconduct. A jury in Minnesota awarded $3.3 million to a service station attendant who was seriously hurt when the metal rim of a truck tire exploded in his face. The jury then awarded an additional $12.5 million - later reduced to $4 million - to penalize the manufacturer for what jurors saw as indifference to safety.
NEWS
March 19, 1991 | From Inquirer Wire Services
The Supreme Court yesterday sent seven punitive-damage awards back to lower courts for restudy in light of its recent refusal to set constitutional limits on the amount of such damages. The cases include a $2.5 million judgment against the Church of Scientology and a $5 million judgment against the Hare Krishna religion. Both groups had complained that the judgments infringed on their religious freedom. In sending the cases back for review, the Supreme Court referred to its ruling March 4 in Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Haslip, which upheld a $1 million damage award to an Alabama woman that far exceeded the actual injury she suffered.
NEWS
April 1, 2015 | By Robert Moran, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Common Pleas Court jury on Monday awarded more than $38.5 million in punitive damages against a security-guard firm for the families of two women killed by a coworker at the Kraft-Nabisco cookie plant in Northeast Philadelphia in 2010. The decision follows another jury's decision to award $8.02 million in compensatory damages to the families of LaTonya Brown, 36, and Tanya Wilson, 47. Brown and Wilson were fatally shot by Yvonne Hiller, whom a judge said suffered from mental illness and believed her coworkers were poisoning her. Hiller, who also wounded a third coworker, was sentenced in 2012 to two consecutive terms of life in prison without parole.
BUSINESS
July 28, 1993 | By Joseph A. Slobodzian, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia yesterday declined to restrict or ban punitive damages in asbestos-disease cases, despite a strongly worded minority opinion warning that such damages threaten to exhaust the money available to compensate asbestos victims. The court upheld, 8-5, the verdict in a 1987 lawsuit filed in the U.S. Virgin Islands by William Dunn, a former pipe installer at Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corp. The appeals court affirmed the award of $500,000 in compensatory damages for lung disease Dunn said he sustained working with asbestos insulation made by Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp.
NEWS
May 4, 1995 | FROM INQUIRER WIRE SERVICES
The Senate yesterday narrowly agreed to limit punitive damage awards in all civil cases, federal and state, to twice the amount of compensatory damages for economic losses and pain and suffering. The 51-49 vote came on an amendment by Republican Leader Bob Dole of Kansas to a bill on product-liability awards. A similar limit was approved Tuesday for medical malpractice cases. All Philadelphia-area senators voted against the Dole-proposed limit, expect Rick Santorum (R., Pa.)
NEWS
January 14, 1996 | By Chris Conway, INQUIRER TRENTON BUREAU
Last year, business interests succeeded in making New Jersey's tort system more to their liking - by getting the legislature to cap punitive awards and make it more difficult for anyone to collect damages. Now, a new effort appears to be under way to further weaken the tort system by allowing companies to insure against punitive damages, which are awarded against defendants to punish egregious misconduct. Senate President Donald DiFrancesco, a Union County Republican who sponsored the new proposal in the waning days of the just-ended legislative session, said there were plans to reintroduce the measure in the new session that has just begun here.
NEWS
August 11, 2001 | By Tom Avril INQUIRER TRENTON BUREAU
An appellate court threw out a $3 million punitive damages award yesterday for a prison guard who alleged that he was sexually harassed by female coworkers, but left intact $1.6 million in compensatory damages and attorneys' fees. A three-judge panel from the state Superior Court's Appellate Division sent the matter of punitive damages back to a lower court for a new trial, finding that the original handling of the issue was flawed. Attorneys for the plaintiff, Robert L. Lockley Jr., vowed to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
BUSINESS
March 18, 2010 | By Christopher K. Hepp INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
In an highly unusual step for such a case, a Philadelphia jury yesterday leveled $5 million in punitive damages against Jeanes Hospital and a Wyncote nursing home in the death of a man who developed ultimately fatal bedsores while at both facilities. The damages - $1.5 million against Jeanes and $3.5 million against the Hillcrest Convalescent Home - came two weeks after the same Common Pleas Court jury awarded $1 million in compensatory damages in the case. The damages were awarded to the widow of Joe N. Blango, who died of bedsores in 2008, two years after being discharged from Jeanes Hospital in the city's Fox Chase section.
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NEWS
September 18, 2015 | BY JULIE SHAW, Daily News Staff Writer shawj@phillynews.com, 215-854-2592
A PHILADELPHIA judge has awarded nearly $4 million to the daughter of a woman who died while under the care of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell. Karnamaya Mongar, 41, of Virginia, died in 2009 at Gosnell's clinic, the Women's Medical Society, on Lancaster Avenue near 38th Street in Powelton Village. Her daughter, Yashoda Devi Gurung, also of Virginia, as the administrator of her mother's estate, filed a lawsuit against Gosnell and his clinic in 2011. Following an assessment-of-damages hearing last month, Common Pleas Judge Jacqueline Allen earlier this week awarded Gurung $3.9 million.
NEWS
April 1, 2015 | BY BOB STEWART, Daily News Staff Writer stewarr@phillynews.com, 215-854-4890
  A PHILADELPHIA JURY yesterday awarded more than $38.5 million in punitive damages to the families of two women shot dead in 2010 by a suspended co-worker at the Kraft Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia. Last month, another jury delivered a verdict against Georgia-based U.S. Security Associates Inc., which provided security at the plant, for compensatory damages in excess of $8 million. That earlier jury, however, deadlocked on the punitive damages. The combined Common Pleas Court verdicts now set the total award for the victims' families at more than $46.5 million.
NEWS
April 1, 2015 | By Robert Moran, Inquirer Staff Writer
A Common Pleas Court jury on Monday awarded more than $38.5 million in punitive damages against a security-guard firm for the families of two women killed by a coworker at the Kraft-Nabisco cookie plant in Northeast Philadelphia in 2010. The decision follows another jury's decision to award $8.02 million in compensatory damages to the families of LaTonya Brown, 36, and Tanya Wilson, 47. Brown and Wilson were fatally shot by Yvonne Hiller, whom a judge said suffered from mental illness and believed her coworkers were poisoning her. Hiller, who also wounded a third coworker, was sentenced in 2012 to two consecutive terms of life in prison without parole.
BUSINESS
July 22, 2014 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
A Superior Court jury in California has awarded $16.2 million in damages to a Sacramento-area homeowner who said that PHH Mortgage Solutions, based in Mount Laurel, botched his loan modification and nearly cost him his house. Lawyers for Phillip Linza said the award included $514,000 in compensatory damages and $15.7 million in punitive damages. PHH is the sixth-largest originator of residential mortgages and the eighth-largest mortgage servicer, as well as South Jersey's fifth-largest employer.
NEWS
May 31, 2014 | By Jan Hefler, Inquirer Staff Writer
A New Jersey Superior Court judge has ordered the multiple owners of a building that had housed a contaminated thermometer factory and then was converted into a day-care center known as Kiddie Kollege to pay a total of $6.13 million for the cleanup they failed to do and for punitive damages. More than 100 infants and children were exposed to mercury vapors in the day-care center for up to 18 months after it opened in Franklin Township, Gloucester County, in 2004. After the story grabbed national attention, changes were made in New Jersey and elsewhere and day-care facilities were subject to more thorough inspections.
BUSINESS
July 20, 2013 | By Alan J. Heavens, Inquirer Real Estate Writer
A Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury has awarded $5.05 million, including $900,000 in punitive damages, to the Belgravia Condominium Association, which sued the Center City building's developers and engineers over alleged structural issues and violations of disclosure provisions of the Pennsylvania Uniform Condominium Act. Lawyers for the defendants - developer 1811 Belgravia Associates and PMC/Belgravia Associates L.P. of Philadelphia, and...
NEWS
March 2, 2013 | By David Sell, Inquirer Staff Writer
A jury in Atlantic City ordered Johnson & Johnson on Thursday to pay $7.8 million in punitive damages to a former hospice nurse for the pain and suffering she endured after using a vaginal mesh implant sold by J&J's Ethicon subsidiary. The verdict follows a $3.35 million award for compensatory damages, delivered Monday. The Gynecare Prolift implant was supposed to help support muscles and sagging internal organs near the pelvis, a condition, referred to as prolapse, that affects some women in years after giving birth.
NEWS
February 17, 2013
A young man who says he was sexually abused at a Boy Scout camp in the Poconos by a supervisor who later committed suicide as he was about to go on trial filed a lawsuit against the national scouting organization and its local affiliate on Friday. The plaintiff, now 18, says that he was sexually assaulted by Gregory Ritter, 44, a first-aid supervisor at Camp Trexler, and that the Boy Scouts' negligence allowed it to happen. The abuse took place in the fall of 2008, when the plaintiff was 14, and followed months of "grooming" by Ritter, the lawsuit said.
NEWS
December 7, 2012
The family of a Western Pennsylvania woman killed by a fallen power line was awarded $109 million by a Pittsburgh jury Thursday. Carrie Goretzka, 39, of Irwin, died three days after being struck by the power line in 2009. The family filed suit against West Penn Power Co. and was represented by Philadelphia lawyer Shanin Specter. The jury awarded $48 million in compensatory damages and $61 million in punitive damages to the family. Jurors also awarded $1 million to Joanne Goretzka, who burned her hands trying to help her daughter-in-law.
NEWS
September 29, 2012 | By Jessica Parks, Inquirer Staff Writer
Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Willis W. Berry Jr. is retiring, leaving the bench on the same day he was ordered to pay $180,000 in punitive damages in a civil fraud case. Berry had reached the mandatory retirement age of 70, said Pamela Pryor Dembe, president judge of Common Pleas Court. He could have served through the end of the year, but decided to leave now. He did not apply to be retained as a senior judge. "He likes to do outdoorsy things," she said. Berry had rebuffed calls for his resignation since 2009, when he was suspended for ethics violations arising from an Inquirer investigation into his real estate dealings.
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