Punitive Damages Award Upheld

A two-step process is involved in determining whether a punitive damage award in Arkansas is excessive:  1) does the award violate state law; and 2) the award is evaluated under the due process analysis contained in BMW v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996) which focuses on the reprehensibility of the defendant's conduct and other factors.

In a case decided by the Arkansas Court of Appeals on January 21, 2007, the court found that the "approximate 7-to-1 ratio" of compensatory damages to punitive damages ($35,000 to $250,000 respectively) "was well within the single digit range" and was therefore upheld.  Also, the court found there was sufficient evidence to show malice based on the numerous and varied reprehensible acts by the defendant (ie. public accusations of adultery and calling appellee a whore; blocking appellee's path from a dumpster with her vehicle; driving by appellee's place of business slowly; other acts).

Link to case - http://courts.state.ar.us/unpublished/2007a/20070124/ca06-240.pdf

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