The U.S. Chamber urged the California Supreme Court to review a decision that permitted jury instructions that truncated the constitutional factors that limit the availability and amount of punitive damages. In this case, the truncated jury instructions on punitive damages explicitly excluded those constitutional "reprehensibility" factors that favored the defendant, and included only those factors that the judge deemed could be supported by the evidence. This fundamental failure to educate the jury on all of the applicable legal limits deprived the defendant of the process due under California law and the Federal Constitution.
The Chamber's amicus letter explained that this case implicates questions of punitive damages practice on which lower courts have often misapplied the California Supreme Court's precedent to punitive damages issues. The letter argued that the case presents a suitable opportunity for the California Supreme Court to give valuable guidance on those recurring and important questions of constitutional dimension.
Benjamin J. Horwich of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP served as counsel for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center.