On October 20, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals heard argument in a federal housing case in which a jury, after a five-day trial, awarded about $13,000 of compensatory damages, and over $250,000 in punitive damages.
The District Court Judge,Donald O’Brien (N.D. Iowa) sharply lowered the jury’s punitive damages award and denied the prevailing plaintiff’s claimed attorneys’ fees of $118,000, lowering them to about $20,000.
At oral argument, the 8th Circuit panel (Judges William Jay Riley, David R. Hansen, Raymond W. Gruender) seemed surprised that anyone would think a case could be fully litigated and tried (five days before a jury) for $20,000. It would seem likely they will reverse the District Court on that score. Whether they will restore punitive damages and an 18x multiplier is a closer question.
Jaymie Quigley vs Dale Winter, 8th Cir. File No. 08-3630