Court Upholds Indiana’s Limit on Civil Damages

May 23, 2013

The Indiana Supreme Court has upheld the state law limiting punitive damages awarded in civil lawsuits and directs most of that money to a state victims fund.

The court ruled 5-0 that the limit still applied, even in a case involving child sexual abuse by a priest. Tuesday’s decision overturned a Marion County judge’s ruling that awarded the victim more than the state maximum.

In 2008, a jury awarded the victim $150,000 in punitive damages, and the county judge upheld it, saying the limit violated separation of powers and jury rights. The state appealed the following year.

Indiana law limits punitive damages to three times the amount of damage covering actual loss or $50,000. Seventy-five percent of punitive damages go to a state victim compensation fund.

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