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Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Haslip et al. - Significance, Punitive Damages

court supreme decision petitioner


Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co.


Cleopatra Haslip, et al.

Petitioner's Claim

That the punitive damages awarded by an Alabama State jury were excessive, and the decision was unconstitutional because it violated Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of due process.

Chief Lawyer for Petitioner

Bruce A. Beckman

Chief Lawyer for Respondent

Bruce J. Ennis, Jr.

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun (writing for the Court), Anthony M. Kennedy, Thurgood Marshall, William H. Rehnquist, Antonin Scalia, John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Sandra Day O'Connor (David H. Souter did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

4 March 1991


Upheld the decision of the Alabama trial jury and the Alabama Supreme Court, that the punitive damages awarded were not excessive or unconstitutional.

Related Cases

  • Browning-Ferris Industries of Vermont v. Kelco Disposal, 492 U.S. 257 (1989).
  • TXO Production Corp. v. Alliance Resources, 509 U.S. 443 (1993).
  • Honda Motor Co. Ltd. v. Oberg, 512 U.S. 415 (1994).
  • BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996).


Levy, Leonard W., ed. Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York: Macmillan, 1986.

Further Readings

  • Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1997.
  • "Two Key Liability Cases Before Supreme Court This Week." Liability Week, March 29, 1993.
  • Witt, Elder, ed. The Supreme Court A to Z. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1993.
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