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Noland Law Firm Wins Case in Missouri Supreme Court: Court Strikes Down Cap on Punitive Damages
Noland Law Firm attorney, Doug Noland, was victorious in the Missouri Supreme Court, after arguing to strike down the cap on punitive damages in common law causes of action. On September 9, 2014, the Missouri Supreme Court unanimously voted to strike down the cap on punitive damages, in §510.265 of Missouri Statutes, in the case of Lillian Lewellen v. Chad Franklin and Chad Franklin National Auto Sales North. The Court held that the cap violated Lewellen’s right to a trial by jury for the claim of fraudulent misrepresentation against Chad Franklin. In doing so, a $1,000,000 judgment for punitive damages awarded to Plaintiff Lewellen by a Clay County jury was restored.
Lewellen brought the claim against Chad Franklin and his dealership, Chad Franklin National Auto Sales, over the sale of a used car that was part of a Kansas City area advertising campaign where cars were offered for sale at $49 per month. The advertising scheme resulted in hundreds of complaints and lawsuits against Chad Franklin and his dealership for claims in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area.
The Missouri Supreme Court, in its decision, held that the guarantee of the right to a trial by jury in the Missouri Constitution was violated by a statute that provided that punitive damages were capped at the greater of five times the actual damages, or $500,000. The Court also held that the punitive damage cap curtailed the jury’s determination of damages and infringed on the right to a trial by jury, which existed at common law and therefore the statutory reduction of the punitive damage award against the Defendant pursuant to the statute was unconstitutional.
“This opinion sends a clear message of the important of punitive damages as a way to curtail those who engage in egregious fraudulent behavior and as a means to deter future misconduct. And that those who engage in the most deliberate and fraudulent misconduct should be held fully accountable through the jury system with the use of punitive damages not subject to cap.” Doug Noland.