PHILADELPHIA (CN) – Two law professors say a judge made two clear errors in slashing their $5 million defamation award against publishing giant Thomson West to $400,000.
Professors Leonard Sosnov and David Rudovsky claim U.S. District Judge John Fullam’s basis for reducing the punitive award from $5 million to $220,000 runs counter to precedent established by the 3rd Circuit.
“The Court of Appeals made it very clear that District Courts should not order reductions of punitive damage awards based on a belief that juries were influenced by defendants’ net worth and/or insensitivity,” the professors claimed in a motion for reconsideration filed Friday. “Here, those were the only grounds given by the Court in reducing punitive damages.”
The memorandum continues that “the Court committed a clear error of law when it ordered plaintiffs to choose between a Constitutionally reduced verdict and a new trial.”
Sosnov and Rudovsky say the judge’s denial of West’s request for a new trial shouldn’t be conditioned on plaintiff’s acceptance of the reduced punitive award.
The professors want the entire $5 million award upheld, or, alternatively, the maximum amount of punitive damages permitted by the Constitution – “an amount that is far in excess of $110,000 per plaintiff.” Fullam’s order also upheld the award of $90,000 to each plaintiff for compensatory damages.