On December 8, 2011, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a nearly $48 million verdict involving a case regarding farmers who alleged damages to their crops from genetically altered rice from the Bayer CropScience.
Although not a wrongful death case, the Arkansas Supreme Court upheld a finding that its state statutory cap on punitive damages (which amounted to $42 million of the $48 million verdict) was unconstitutional.
This particular case is only applicable to Arkansas cases and courts (and, in any event courts in the St. Louis metropolitan area--Illinois and Missouri--have no caps on punitive damages). However, it is a good sign that Justices are taking a serious look at the constitutionality of statutory caps on damages (a function normally constitutionally reserved to jurors).
This is good news for challenges to the non-econmic damage cap in Missouri medical malpractice cases which is capped at $350,000.00. The Missouri Supreme Court recently heard arguments on the constitutionality of this cap in Sanders v. Ahmed but has not yet ruled.
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