U.S. Supreme Court

Case Status


Docket Number



2006 Term


Questions Presented

1. Whether California law deprives defendants of "fair notice" and thus violates the Due Process Clause if it permits the imposition of liability for punitive damages without regard to any objective indicators of reasonable conduct--including industry custom, governmental safety standards and policy judgments, and the existence of a genuine debate about what the law requires.

2. Whether, in upholding a $55 million punitive damage award and disregarding objective indicators of reasonableness and good faith in determining constitutional excessiveness, the court rendered the "reprehensibility guidepost" a nullity, by depriving it of any constraining force in product liability cases.

3. Whether the Due Process Clause prohibits using a punitive damage award to punish a manufacturer for selling products not at issue in the case or to third parties not before the court.

Case Updates

Supreme Court issues GVR

May 14, 2007

The Supreme Court granted review, vacated the decision below and remanded this case in light of Philip Morris v. Williams.

U.S. Chamber urges Supreme Court to review punitive damages when federal safety standards are followed

April 04, 2007

NCLC urged the Supreme Court to review a punitive damages decision in which an initial $246 million jury award was reduced to $75 million by the trial court. In its brief, NCLC opposed the imposition of punitive damages liability where the relevant federal agency had approved the design of the faulted vehicle. NCLC argued that Ford complied with all relevant federal safety standards and therefore could not have exhibited the required reprehensible conduct which normally would support the award of punitive damages.

Amicus brief before California Court of Appeal filed 1/3/06. Decided by California Court of Appeal 7/19/06.

Amicus letter before California Supreme Court filed 9/26/06. Review denied 11/2/06.

Amicus brief in support of Supreme Court cert. filed 4/4/07. U.S. Supreme Court granted, vacated and remanded 5/14/07.

Case Documents