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Donald A. Caminiti
Donald A. Caminiti
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Punitive Damages

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A Missouri appeals court Tuesday upheld an $8 million punitive damages judgment imposed in Jackson County against State Farm Insurance.

The case involved a lawsuit filed by Johnson County residents Jennie Hampton and Marvin Vail, who accused State Farm of malicious prosecution and breach of contract.

The case began a decade ago when Hampton reported the theft of her Toyota 4Runner, which was found abandoned and burned in Miami County, Kan. State Farm declined to pay her $10,000 claim and, working through an industry investigative service, referred the case to Johnson County prosecutors, who charged Hampton and Vail with insurance fraud.

After a jury acquitted them in 2001, they filed the civil action against State Farm.

In September 2005, a Jackson County jury awarded them each $400,000. Later that year, a judge adjusted those amounts to $250,000 because of a statutory cap, and he also assessed the punitive awards.

State Farm appealed. The Court of Appeals for the Western District of Missouri upheld the judge’s actions.

For more information on this subject, please refer to the section on Car and Motorcycle Accidents.