Justinian C. Lane, Esq.
Let Justice Be Done, Though the Heavens May Fall

Justinian Lane's Blog

Justinian's Blog

Chrysler will probably spend more to appeal this case than to just pay the judgment

I’m talking of course about the minivan case:

Theodore Boutrous Jr. of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher finds himself in the middle of a nationally watched punitive damages case after a closely divided Tennessee Supreme Court reversed a lower court and upheld a $13.4 million award to a mother whose infant son died in a 2001 car crash.

The ruling is the latest twist in a case that has seen various courts cut punitive damages against DaimlerChrysler Corp. from $98 million to $20 million, to $13.3 million, and finally to zero. But just when momentum was on the side of DCC and Gibson Dunn, the Tennessee Supreme Court reinstated the $13.3 million award last week.

Source: Law.com - Gibson Dunn Will Fight Court's $13.4 Million Reversal in Crash Case

This illustrates a reason why I oppose “loser pays.”  If Chrysler wins this one $13 million appeal, it may save $100 million in future lawsuits.  Hence, it has a financial incentive to spend more than $13 million to win this appeal.  The individual plaintiff, on the other hand, will likely only file this one lawsuit. It’s unfair to potentially put the plaintiff on the hook for fees for work that is part of a defendant’s broader litigation strategy than this one case.