Litigation News Update

March 2019

Tennessee Cap on Punitive Damages Ruled Unconstitutional

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled on December 21, 2018 that a recently enacted Tennessee Code provision that capped damages in court cases, “violates the constitutional right to a trial by jury.” The case was Tamarin Lindenberg v. Jackson Nat’l Life Ins. Co . from the Western District of Tennessee at Memphis.

By Tennessee statute, punitive or exemplary damages were capped in an amount not to exceed the greater of two (2) times the total amount of compensatory damages awarded, or $500,000.00.

The statute was part of a legislative effort at tort reform. Now, questions remain as to how and when the cap applies, since the ruling was made in federal court. The state Supreme Court has yet to rule, but could reach a different conclusion.

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