BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559, 9 (1996)

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Cite as: 517 U. S. 559 (1996)

Opinion of the Court

nitive damages in Yates reflected "the inherent uncertainty of the trial process"; and the punitive award bore a "reasonable relationship" to "the harm that was likely to occur from [BMW's] conduct as well as . . . the harm that actually occurred." 646 So. 2d, at 625-627.

The Alabama Supreme Court did, however, rule in BMW's favor on one critical point: The court found that the jury improperly computed the amount of punitive damages by multiplying Dr. Gore's compensatory damages by the number of similar sales in other jurisdictions. Id., at 627. Having found the verdict tainted, the court held that "a constitutionally reasonable punitive damages award in this case is $2,000,000," id., at 629, and therefore ordered a remittitur in that amount.10 The court's discussion of the amount of its remitted award expressly disclaimed any reliance on "acts that occurred in other jurisdictions"; instead, the court explained that it had used a "comparative analysis" that considered Alabama cases, "along with cases from other jurisdictions, involving the sale of an automobile where the seller misrepresented the condition of the vehicle and the jury awarded punitive damages to the purchaser." 11 Id., at 628.

10 The Alabama Supreme Court did not indicate whether the $2 million figure represented the court's independent assessment of the appropriate level of punitive damages, or its determination of the maximum amount that the jury could have awarded consistent with the Due Process Clause.

11 Other than Yates v. BMW of North America, Inc., 642 So. 2d 937 (1993), in which no punitive damages were awarded, the Alabama Supreme Court cited no such cases. In another portion of its opinion, 646 So. 2d, at 629, the court did cite five Alabama cases, none of which involved either a dispute arising out of the purchase of an automobile or an award of punitive damages. G. M. Mosley Contractors, Inc. v. Phillips, 487 So. 2d 876, 879 (1986); Hollis v. Wyrosdick, 508 So. 2d 704 (1987); Campbell v. Burns, 512 So. 2d 1341, 1343 (1987); Ashbee v. Brock, 510 So. 2d 214 (1987); and Jawad v. Granade, 497 So. 2d 471 (1986). All of these cases support the proposition that appellate courts in Alabama presume that jury verdicts are correct. In light of the Alabama Supreme Court's conclusion that (1) the jury had computed its award by multiplying $4,000 by the number of refinished vehicles sold in the United States and


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