Sixth Circuit Asked to Grant Rehearing of Split Panel Decision That Held Punitive Damage Limits Unconstitutional

Partners Cary Silverman and Phil Goldberg have filed an amici brief urging the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit to grant a petition for rehearing en banc of a split panel decision finding that Tennessee’s statutory limit on punitive damages violates the Tennessee Constitution’s right to jury trial. 

The brief explains that en banc review is appropriate because the panel ruled on a matter of first impression under state law in a manner that (1) is inconsistent with Tennessee’s long-standing presumption that statutory enactments are constitutional and the Tennessee Supreme Court’s history of upholding civil justice reforms; (2) is contrary to the vast majority of state courts, which have upheld the authority of states to place constraints on punitive damage awards; and (3) conflicts with every federal circuit that has considered the constitutionality of a state limit on damages, including the Sixth Circuit’s own jurisprudence. 

The brief was filed on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America, American Tort Reform Association, National Association of Manufacturers, and NFIB Small Business Legal Center.

Silverman focuses his practice on product liability, tort and consumer law, and civil justice reform. Goldberg is Managing Partner of Shook's Washington, D.C. office and Co-Chair of the firm's Public Policy group. 

The case is Lindenberg v. Jackson Nat'l Life Ins. Co., Nos. 17-6034, 17-6079 (6th Cir.).