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February 20, 2007

SCOTUS continues to regulate corporate punishment

As detailed in this AP article and this early report from SCOTUSblog, the Supreme Court has ruled "that it is unconstitutional for a jury to award punitive damages out of a desire to punish a company for harming individuals other than those directly involved in the lawsuit in Philip Morris USA v. Williams Estate (05-1256)." 

I hope that the Court's continuing willingness to declare unconstitutional specific instances of excessive corporate punishment might, in some way, get extended to its review of cases involving excessive individual punishment.

February 20, 2007 at 10:19 AM | Permalink


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Don't get your hopes up from this case. It held that punitive damages are limited to the damage inflicted on the plaintiff(s) before the court, and cannot be awarded for injuries inflicted upon non-parties. Since criminal defendants always know the longest possible maximum sentence they face, I think this case foreshadows nothing about Eighth Amendment excessive punishment claims.

Posted by: Greg Jones | Feb 20, 2007 11:47:01 AM

The Phillip Morris decision has at least one analogue in the criminal context: Considering acquited conduct and/or "other bad acts" evidence in criminal senencing.

Posted by: Aaron Katz | Feb 20, 2007 2:12:06 PM

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