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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

DuPont Wants Punitive Damages – What Would the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Say ?

The US Chamber of Commerce and others frequently advocate to limit or abolish punitive damages evidence and awards. An example is this amicus brief in Eden Electrical v. Amana Company. (But if punitive damages are awarded, the Chamber wants the award to be deductible as ordinary business expenses, as stated here by the Chamber.)

Oft used phrases that come quickly to mind are "jackpot justice" and "litigation lotteries." So, it’s interesting to note this AmLaw story that DuPont is seeking $ 52 million in punitive damages plus attorney’s fees on top of a $ 920 million compensatory damages award for theft of trade secrets. The facts of the case described in the article do indeed seem egregious, and so one understands why DuPont is after punitive damages from a Korean competitor that apparently blatantly acted badly an destroyed evidence. The good news for the Chamber is that the requested punitive damages fit within the oft-cited 10X ratio between compensatory damages and punitive damages.

Here’s the key excerpt from the article as to DuPont’s hopes:

"Kolon and its lawyers have promised to appeal the verdict, which DuPont is still seeking to augment with more than $52 million in punitive damages and more than $30 million in attorney fees. (A hearing on punitive damages is scheduled for November.) DuPont’s lawyers will also get a chance to play defense next March, when a trial is set on antitrust counterclaims brought by Kolon accusing DuPont of monopolizing the market for para-aramid fibers."

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