NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Awards In Largest Lawsuits Plummeted In 2000

January 8, 2001

The amount of money awarded in the nation's 11 largest lawsuits fell by two-thirds last year but still totaled more than $2.6 billion, according to a report to be released today by the legal newspaper Lawyers Weekly USA.

A drop-off in huge judgments against manufacturers of faulty products and providers of poor medical care -- traditional targets of large lawsuits -- accounted for the decline.

  • The largest verdict, $474.7 million was won by a former Playboy Playmate of the Year, who accused the family of her late oil tycoon husband of trying to cut her out of his will.
  • Terry Anderson, the former Associated Press reporter who was held hostage in Lebanon for seven years, was awarded $341.7 million against the Islamic Republic of Iran -- a portion of which he can collect from Iranian assets seized and held by the U.S.
  • Civil verdicts in 1999 had totaled nearly $9 billion -- largely because of a $4.9 billion award against General Motors involving plaintiffs who were badly burned in car crashes.
  • Most huge verdicts are reduced on appeal -- as was the GM verdict, which is still under appeal.

The list does not include class-action lawsuits or cases in which corporations have sued each other.

Source: Richard Willing, "Study: Lawsuit Awards Dropped Off in 2000," USA Today, January 8, 2001.


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