Quote of the Day - Jury verdicts became highly suspect and were frequently overturned for a variety of ever-expanding reasons, ... Jury assessments were wiped out by increasingly harsher standards for mental anguish and punitive standards.
Back in June, MIPTC reported that the City of Modesto won a $175 million verdict against Dow Chemical, Vulcan Materials and a third and much smaller company, R.R. Street. I also opined that the verdict wouldn't last.
Today, the Daily Journal reported that San Francisco City & County Superior Court Judge John Murther, who presided over the jury trial, cut that verdict to just under $13 million. Vulcan Materials' share is just over $7.2 million and Dow's verdict dropped to $5.4 million. R.R. Street stayed at $75,000 (in part because it didn't seek to overturn the jury's award). The total is four times the amount of a compensatory damage awarded by the jury.
While the parties are back to a result more in line with recent U.S. and California Supreme Court guidance, we have yet to see what will happen on appeal, which may follow this ruling or may wait until evidence on the other 40 allegedly contaminated sites is heard by the jury. This ruling resulted from evidence on only five of the sites.
Dow and Vulcan asserted defenses based on state-of-the-art knowledge at the time the contamination occurred, and will likely seek to overturn the jury's verdict(s) altogether. That appeal will present issues on state-of-the-art arguments, which may (or may not) be recognized as valid defenses.