In the News

Mitchell Morris Pens Law360 Article on Punitive Damages Defense

August 24, 2017

Richmond partner Mitchell Morris, who leads McGuireWoods’ punitive damages practice, wrote an Aug. 18 Law360 article discussing strategies to mitigate punitive damages in mass tort litigation. Analyzing results of 40 trials against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company over the past two years, Morris examined factors behind juries’ decisions in certain cases to award little to no punitive damages despite finding against RJR on compensatory liability.

In the article, titled “Liability Doesn’t Have To Mean Punitive Damages Too,” Morris observed that “RJR’s ability to defeat punitive damages even after it has been found liable [ ] underscores the importance and value of a focused punitive damages defense — especially in mass tort contexts like Engle where compensatory liability may be difficult to fully avoid. Even where complete victory may be unattainable, defeating punitive damages can radically reduce the value of a case — and a docket overall.”

Morris also examined bifurcation and “Phase II” punitive damages proceedings in his Nov. 21, 2016, Law360 article, “Tobacco Trial Sheds Light on Punitive Damages Process.”