Punitive Damages

PUNITIVE DAMAGES

 

As most people have heard by now Monsanto was hit with a $289 million-dollar verdict, which included $250 million dollars in punitive damages for its manufacture of the weed killer, Roundup.  I wanted to take a moment to explain the verdict.  “Actual damages” are what a jury believes is the value of what the plaintiff suffered.  In this instance this unfortunate gentleman would appear to have terminal cancer.  They valued his loss of life, and the loss to his loved ones at $39 million dollars.  This is separate and distinct from “punitive damages”.  Punitive damages should be thought of as a punishment.  It’s a jury’s way of telling a company that they got caught doing something that was egregious.  In other words, there must have been evidence that Montsanto knew, or should have known, that Roundup was likely to cause a particular type of cancer, yet they continued to manufacture.  I want to make clear that as someone who was not involved in the case, I don’t know that for a fact, but all indications point in that direction.  Many jurisdictions don’t allow punitive damages, but it is an important aspect of keeping companies honest.  Those who fight for tort reform and think that we should do away with punitive damages are ignoring a basic fact:  If a company does not do anything egregious they will not be held responsible for punitive damages.  It’s that simple.  Regardless, this is certainly not the last case Montsanto will see.  It is anticipated that untold numbers of people were exposed to this chemical in Roundup, and it could very well be responsible for cancerous outcomes.

 

The law firm of Colucci, Colucci, Marcus & Flavin, P.C. has been recognized by Newsweek.com as one of the Top 10 Best Law Firms for Personal Injury in the Country. Attorney Darin Colucci has also been recognized by Newsweek.com for 3 consecutive years as one of the Top 10 Best Personal Injury Attorneys in the Country.