The “nuclear verdict” is a term recently coined to refer to unexpectedly high damage awards that appear to exceed rational parameters in civil cases. However, verdicts with monetary awards that far exceed expectations, and/or that are considered to be inflated, outlandish or even destructive, have been considered to be a problem for at least a generation (thus the phrase “old wine, new bottles”). Despite this history, a recent and somewhat sudden growth in concern among the insurance industry and defense litigators has precipitated a renewed sense of alarm connected with damage awards that appear to be spiraling out of control, with the implication that this trend has taken hold in a more pernicious manner within recent years.
In this article understand:
- The definition of a nuclear verdict
- The historical background of nuclear verdicts
- The five causative factors of nuclear verdicts
- The goal of control
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Michael G. Martin
Attorney, Graves & King LLP
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Litigation Paralegal, Charleston, South Carolina
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