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.