Legal Commentary Update by Peter A. Corsale of Gallop
The Supreme Court of Missouri Narrowly Upholds
Missouri’s Punitive Damages Cap: For Now
On January 31, 2012, in a 3-2 split, the Missouri Supreme Court upheld Missouri’s punitive damages cap, § 510.265 RSMo (2010), in the Estate of Max E. Overbey and Glenna Overbey v. Franklin, SC-91369. Section 510.265 provides that “no award of punitive damages against any defendant shall exceed the greater of (1) $500,000, or (2) five times the net amount of the judgment awarded to the plaintiff against the defendant.” The statute provides for three exceptions to this general rule – (1) when the State is the plaintiff, (2) when the defendant has pled guilty to or is convicted of a felony arising out of the acts or omissions pled by the plaintiff, and (3) when the case involves housing discrimination. The Overbey majority addressed each aspect of the statute, finding the statute to be constitutional and a valid exercise of legislative power.
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