Saturday, December 3, 2016

Ok =< 10(Damages + Brandts)

Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., No. B234271 (D2d3 Nov. 3, 2016)

This is our third go-round on this case, having covered the original D2 opinion and the Supreme Court’s partial reversal. The Supremes held that Brandt fees—fees incurred by an insured in its effort to obtain wrongfully denied coverage—should count in the denominator for the 9:1 or 10:1 ratio that more or less limits the ratio between actual and punitive damages under the constitutional Gore/State Farm due process framework.

On remand, the court runs through a full analysis on the puni award, finding that although the jury award of $19 million on a compensatory award of $35,000 and 12,500 in Brandt fees was out of whack, a punitive award of ten times that sum—$475,000—would hold up under Gore/State Farm. So the court vacates the new trial award that pertained to the remittitur and orders the trial court to amend the judgment to reflect punitives of $475,000. 

Affirmed, as modified.

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