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The court in Ohio has reduced the total jury award in the Oberlin slander case against Gibson’s Bakery to $25 million total, but by what looks like the smallest amount possible based on its interpretation of the law.
The jury originally returned a total compensatory verdict of $11 million and punitive verdict of $33 million. In these posts we detailed the arguments of the parties as to how to Ohio’s tort reform caps applied to the calculation:
The key disputes as to how to apply Ohio tort reform caps on noneconomic compensatory damages centered on whether each claim for each plaintiff was separately subject to the cap, or did the cap apply to all claims of each plaintiff. The court appears to have ruled, as plaintiffs argued, that the cap was per claim.
More significantly, the tort reform law limits punitive damages to 2X compensatory, but the issue was whether that applied to pre-cap compensatory damages or post-cap compensatory damages. That was about a $10 million swing. The court appears to have agreed with the plaintiffs argument that under the plain reading of the statute, the 2X cap applied to pre-cap compensatory damages.
Another way to put it is the court has awarded Gibson’s the maximum award possible based on its legal interpretation. To me, this suggests that the court is as offended as everyone else by Oberlin’s refusal to accept the decision while spreading falsehoods about the case and maligning the jury.
They will have a hearing on how much Oberlin will have to pay for Gibson’s attorney’s fees on July 10.