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Court Crier: Catastrophic/Excess Liability

In Borella v. Renfro, the Appeals Court of Massachusetts addressed whether a hard foul committed in a game of ice hockey, which resulted in a player’s wrist being cut, constituted a breach of the other player’s duty not to engage in reckless conduct. The court held that the record was devoid of evidence from which a jury rationally could conclude that the other player’s conduct was extreme misconduct outside the range of the ordinary activity inherent in the sport. (December 2, 2019)

In Wilson v. U.S. Security Associates, Inc., the Superior Court of Pennsylvania addressed numerous challenges to a substantial jury verdict of $46.5 million (of which $38.5 million was punitive damages). The case concerned alleged inadequate security and related claims arising from the murder of two Kraft Foods employees, and non-fatal injuries inflicted on a third employee, by a disgruntled former co-worker. The plaintiffs sought to add a punitive damages claim in the middle of trial that was previously dismissed without prejudice. The court held that the plaintiffs could not do so because the statute of limitations had run and thereby entered judgment notwithstanding the verdict on the plaintiffs’ $38.5 million punitive damages award. In so ruling, the court rejected the argument that a punitive damages claim was merely an extension of the underlying claims. The court also rejected the security company’s various challenges to the compensatory damages award. (July 18, 2017)

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