The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today released an opinion in BAKER v. EXXON MOBILE CORP., No. 04-35182, a federal appeal. The panel consisted of Mary M. Schroeder, Chief Judge, James R. Browning and Andrew J. Kleinfeld, Circuit Judges.
I. INTRODUCTION We look for the third time at the punitive damages imposed in this litigation as a result of the 1989 grounding of the oil . . .
BROWNING, Circuit Judge, dissenting:
Because I believe the punitive damages award in this case is not “grossly excessive,” I would affirm. In reviewing the size of a punitive damages award, our sole duty is to ensure its imposition does not violate due process. Where an award lies within the bounds of due process, as this one does, we may not substitute a figure we consider more reasonable for one fairly awarded by a jury and properly reviewed by a district court. Therefore, I respectfully dissent. 1. Due Process Review of Punitive Damages To comport with the Constitution, a punitive damages award must strike the proper balance between the state goals of deterrence and retribution and a defendant’s due process right to be free from arbitrary punishment. See State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408, 416-17 (2003). The Supreme Court has determined the balance is upset at the point an award becomes “grossly excessive,” reasoning that, “[t]o the extent an award is grossly excessive, it furthers no . . .