Federal Judge Slashes Jury Award in Insurance Case

February 17, 2009

A federal judge in Utah has slashed tens of millions in punitive damages from a jury award to an insurance company last year.

U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell said the $62,707,000 award to Farm Bureau Insurance Co., was excessive. Campbell reduced the payout to just over $3.6 million, an amount equal to compensatory damages awarded by the jury.

The award stems from a 2003 lawsuit filed by Farm Bureau Insurance. The company alleged that its rival, American National Insurance Co., of Galveston, Texas, had damaged its business and misappropriated trade secrets by stealing away staff.

American National denied the allegations and challenged the verdict as excessive.

Campbell denied American National’s request for a new trial, but agreed the award was too much.

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