After less than five hours of deliberations, a Florida jury has shattered all records for punitive damages awards.
“This jury’s $145 billion award, nearly 30 times the previous record, even outdistanced a fictional award in John Grisham’s novel ‘The Runaway Jury,’” said Paul Beckner, President of Citizens for a Sound Economy.
In the Grisham novel about smokers suing tobacco companies, punitive damages were awarded in the amount of $400 million on top of compensatory damages of $2 million.
“Not even Grisham’s fiction could match the warped reality visited upon the legal system by this verdict,” Beckner said.
At an estimated 40 percent, the law firm handling this case may reap $58 billion in contingency fees. If upheld, this award may put the self-described “mom and pop” law firm, husband-and-wife team Stanley and Susan Rosenblatt, among the wealthiest people in the world.
“The two attorneys in this case now find themselves behind only Bill Gates on the 2000 Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest people,” said Beckner.
Recently, Forbes listed the richest people in the world as Bill Gates, with $60 billion, followed by Oracle’s Larry Ellison. If the Rosenblatts collect their fees, they will knock Ellison down to third-place with his $47 billion.
Today’s events show that we have a long way to go before we are able to give back our legal system to decent, honest Americans with real grievances. Now, more than ever, tort reform must be pursued at all levels if we are ever to restore common sense to the law.
See “Tobacco Trial Lawyers’ Mega Jackpot” by CSE New Hampshire Director Richard Killion at: http://www.cse.org/informed/701.html
See “The Trial Lawyer Class Action Scam” by JV Schwan, CSE Deputy Director and Counsel to Civil Justice Reform at: http://www.cse.org/informed/670.html