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Fewer Huge Awards Made by Juries in 2003

January 03, 2004|From Associated Press

Juries handed out fewer big-ticket verdict awards to individual plaintiffs in 2003, according to an annual survey.

The value of the 10 biggest jury awards fell to $1.27 billion, a six-year low, Boston-based Lawyers Weekly USA said. The highest-paying verdict was $254.6 million, the smallest top award since 1993.

"Jurors have been bombarded in the past two years with rhetoric from politicians complaining about 'irresponsible' jury verdicts, and that political debate may be impacting how jurors behave when they sit down for deliberations," said Paul J. Martinek, Lawyers Weekly USA's publisher and editor-in-chief.

The top award went to two German entrepreneurs who won a complex lawsuit in which they claimed they were cheated out of their equity stake in a European joint venture between Bertelsmann and America Online.

For the first time in several years, the top awards did not include any tobacco lawsuits.

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