Wow…$2.6 million in punitive damages cut to a scant $400k

The 6th Circuit has just decided, for the second time, Bach v First Union National Bank. I was very surprised to see the court of appeals cut the punitive damages awarded by an obviously outraged jury from $2.6 million down to $400,000. Ms.Bach obvious had a good case for violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act against the bank because the jury awarded her $400,000 in damages. Equally obvious is the fact that she was treated maliciously by the bank as the jury also gave her punitive damages of $2.6 million. What is surprising is that the 6th Circuit took what I think is very extraordinary action. It reduced the jury’s award of punitive damages of $2.6 million down to $400,000. The court reasoned that there were not enough aggravating factors to support a $2.6 million award. I think differently. I think that it took an incredible amount of nerve for the court to second guess a jury verdict based upon days and days of testimony and deliberation.
So why did the court really reduce a punitive damages verdict to 1/6th of its original value? I don’t know. But I can tell you that courts are usually very reticent to supplant a jury verdict for their own. I do have to wonder, however, is this an omen of things to come in consumer litigation in our jurisdiction? Should consumers and their attorneys worry about whether this decision was simply a rogue opinion or is it the beginning of trend that will tend to route consumer rights? Time will tell.

This entry was posted on Monday, May 21st, 2007 and is filed under Fair Credit Reporting Act issues . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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