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Plaintiff lawyer response.

Peck and other lawyers in the Center for Constitutional Litigation noted that many state courts, such as Oregon's, already engage in de novo review of punitive damages awards with no discernible difference from an abuse-of-discretion review.

Peck said plaintiff attorneys might still be able to avoid de novo review after the Cooper Industries decision by seeking specific jury findings that support the punitive award.

"Plaintiff counsel seeking a punitive award should use a special verdict form addressing the various elements that constitute grounds for a punitive damages award under the applicable law," he said.

The form should specify the precise facts that support the award, such as a finding that the defendant intended to harm the plaintiff or an explanation of why the conduct was malicious.

"It should also walk the court through the process by which the punitive award was calculated," Peck said. "For example, a jury could specify the amount of money the defendant saved or earned because of its misconduct."

The Court remanded the case for application of the de novo standard.
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Author:Scarlett, Thomas
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2001
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