DAMAGES - PUNITIVE - HIGH RATIO ON NOMINAL DAMAGES, CONTINUING INTENTIONAL MISCONDUCT - ENGINEERED COOLING SERVICES, INC. V. STAR SERVICE INC. OF MOBILE
Engineered Cooling Services, Inc. v. Star Service Inc. of Mobile, [Ms. 2110178, Aug. 10, 2012] ___ So. 3d ___ (Ala. Civ. App. 2012). Upon remand, the Circuit Court of Mobile County entered an order giving reasons why its award of $30,000 punitive damages was not excessive. On return to the order of remand, the Court of Civil Appeals rejects the defendant's arguments that (1) there was not substantial evidence that it induced a breach of the confidentiality agreement, (2) the plaintiff was not damaged, and (3) the punitive damages were excessive because they exceeded a ratio of three to one. The Court found that the defendant's "tortious conduct was intentional and premeditated and that it involved repeated actions rather than an isolated incident." The circuit court awarded only nominal damages of $1 because the plaintiff "could not prove the specific amount of the profits it lost as a result of losing the contract." Nevertheless, because of the reprehensibility of the tortious conduct, neither a single-digit ratio" nor a 3-to-1 ratio need be adhered to.