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BMW Liability Verdict Reduced

May 10, 1997|Associated Press

Alabama's highest court ruled that BMW should pay $50,000, not $2 million, for failing to tell a buyer that his car's paint had been damaged and retouched. The case--which had become a rallying cry for critics of big jury awards--had been sent back to the state Supreme Court by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said the $2-million punitive damage award was "grossly excessive." The award had been won by a Birmingham doctor who had not been told that his new BMW sedan had been partly repainted to touch up acid rain damage that occurred during shipping. Without dissent, the Alabama Supreme Court said Germany-based auto maker's conduct "was reprehensible enough to justify the imposition of punitive damages." But the court said $50,000 would be a proper penalty. The court said it settled on the figure because the repairs "were merely cosmetic" and the loss to the physician was purely economic.

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