Alabama Civil Appellate Cases Released March 9, 2012

Following are the cases released by the Alabama Supreme Court and Court of Civil Appeals on March 9, 2012:

From the Alabama Supreme Court:

Riverstone Development Co. v. Roy T. Nelson and Fieldstone Land Company, LLC

Ex parte American Family Care, Inc.

From the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:

Perry v. Federal National Mortgage Association

Paulk v. Paulk

Biggs v. City of Birmingham

Nuss Lumber Co., Inc. v. Monghan

Landry v. Landry

S.U. v. Madison County Department of Human Resources

Alabama Civil Appellate Cases Released March 2, 2012

Following are the cases released by the Alabama Supreme Court and Court of Civil Appeals on March 2, 2012.

From the Alabama Supreme Court:

Jenkins v. Lincoln Electric Company

Ex parte Sacred Heart Health System, Inc.

McMahon v. Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.

Auto Owners Insurance, Inc. v. Blackmon Insurance Agency, Inc.

Alabama State Bar v. Dudley

From the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals:

D.M.P.C.P. v. T.J.C., Jr.

Downing v. Halcyon Oaks Homeowners Association, Inc.

Nelms v. Nelms

Smith v. Walker

Gilmore v. Jones

D.J.G. v. F.E.G.

Collateral Estoppel Bars Re-Litigation of Constitutionality of Tax Scheme

Addressing a long-standing sales tax dispute between the State Department of Revenue and a foreign corporation doing business in Alabama, the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals held that the doctrine of collateral estoppel precluded the court from revisiting constitutional arguments that the revenue department offered in its attempt to retain sales tax collected from the corporation. State of Alabama Dep’t of Revenue v. Hoover, Inc., No. 2060142 (Ala. Civ. App. Aug. 31, 2007).

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United States Supreme Court Holds that Punitive Damages May Not Be Based on Harm to Non-Parties

A decade after the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark punitive damages decision in BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996), a case emanating from Alabama, the Court again spoke on the issue in February in Philip Morris USA v. Williams. In that appeal from a negligence and fraud judgment from an Oregon state court, the Court considered whether the $79.5 million punitive damages award violated the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution because the award punished the defendant for harming individuals who were not parties to the action. The Court found that the award “would amount to a taking of ‘property’ from the defendant without due process.” Writing for the Court, Justice Breyer explained that, “the Constitution’s Due Process Clause forbids a state to use a punitive damages award to punish a defendant for injury that it inflicts upon nonparties or those whom they directly represent, i.e., injury that it inflicts upon those who are, essentially, strangers to the litigation.” Moreover, the notion that, “it may be appropriate to consider the reasonableness of a punitive damages award in light of the potential harm the defendant’s conduct could have caused . . . was harm potentially caused the plaintiff.” (emphasis supplied)

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