The Nevada Legislature has capped damages from Punitive damage awards limiting it to three times the amount of general damages per NRS 42.005. $300,000 cap for small verdicts (< $100K) and three times the verdict for those over $100K. These do not, however, apply to Product’s Liability cases, nor insurance bad faith cases. These are the most common cases a personal injury lawyer will deal with, except perhaps the DUI driver Defendant where the conduct is so reckless it may amount to crossing the line of intentional conduct.
Given this, the only cap on product’s liability (e.g. Ford Motor, or Tire cases where there was malice or knowledge of the defect and a jury feels compelled to punish the manufacturer) is the Governing Cap developed by our very own US Supreme Court. The US Supreme Court in a landmark decision BMW vs. Gore outlined specific notions of fairness in a platform analysis for State Judges. The platform looks at the following two prongs: Reprehensibility & Ratio. How bad was the conduct? Did the malicious conduct affect safety? = Reprehensible Conduct and Ratio: Are the two verdicts Compensatory and Punitive Damage awards have a common ratio so as to not deprive one of due process of law…property. The guideline was basically a 10:1 ratio that they could not exceed when awarding a punitive damages awards. Since this decision the Court has further narrowed the guidelines in decisions that we will not address here, but the point is clear that the Nevada Legislature has designed the guidelines for Product manufacturer’s to product safe products and do it with some integrity. Below is the statute on Punitive damage guidelines for Nevada Cases:
NRS 42.005 Exemplary and punitive damages: In general; limitations on amount of award; determination in subsequent proceeding.
1. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 42.007, in an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice, express or implied, the plaintiff, in addition to the compensatory damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant. Except as otherwise provided in this section or by specific statute, an award of exemplary or punitive damages made pursuant to this section may not exceed:
(a) Three times the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff if the amount of compensatory damages is $100,000 or more; or
(b) Three hundred thousand dollars if the amount of compensatory damages awarded to the plaintiff is less than $100,000.
2. The limitations on the amount of an award of exemplary or punitive damages prescribed in subsection 1 do not apply to an action brought against:
(a) A manufacturer, distributor or seller of a defective product;
(b) An insurer who acts in bad faith regarding its obligations to provide insurance coverage;
(c) A person for violating a state or federal law prohibiting discriminatory housing practices, if the law provides for a remedy of exemplary or punitive damages in excess of the limitations prescribed in subsection 1;
(d) A person for damages or an injury caused by the emission, disposal or spilling of a toxic, radioactive or hazardous material or waste; or
(e) A person for defamation.
3. If punitive damages are claimed pursuant to this section, the trier of fact shall make a finding of whether such damages will be assessed. If such damages are to be assessed, a subsequent proceeding must be conducted before the same trier of fact to determine the amount of such damages to be assessed. The trier of fact shall make a finding of the amount to be assessed according to the provisions of this section. The findings required by this section, if made by a jury, must be made by special verdict along with any other required findings. The jury must not be instructed, or otherwise advised, of the limitations on the amount of an award of punitive damages prescribed in subsection 1.
4. Evidence of the financial condition of the defendant is not admissible for the purpose of determining the amount of punitive damages to be assessed until the commencement of the subsequent proceeding to determine the amount of exemplary or punitive damages to be assessed.
5. For the purposes of an action brought against an insurance company.
Share and Enjoy