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City of Cleveland v. Peter Kiewit Sons’ Co.

United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
624 F.2d 749 (1980)


The City of Cleveland (plaintiff) leased portions of an old city-owned dock to Peter Kiewit Sons' Company (Kiewit) (defendant), a large international construction company. Kiewit was working on a project elsewhere in Cleveland's harbor, pursuant to a multimillion dollar government contract. Kiewit vacated the dock after completing the project. Soon after, some of the dock collapsed. Even though most of the collapse occurred outside the area Kiewit leased, the city sued Kiewit for damages. At trial, the city attorney repeatedly attempted to introduce evidence of Kiewit's large financial resources, liability insurance coverage, and the size of Kiewit's contract with the government. The judge blocked the city attorney’s efforts, reprimanded the city attorney’s misconduct in the jury's presence, and instructed the jury to disregard Kiewit's resources and insurance. The trial jury returned a verdict for the city and awarded damages of $350,000. After the city rejected the judge's $175,000 remittitur, the judge ordered a new trial solely on the issue of damages. Kiewit appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Kiewit argued that despite the judge's rulings and reprimands, the city attorney’s misconduct prejudiced the jury's verdict. The city responded that the city attorney merely attempted to draw the jury's attention to Kiewit's financial ability to prevent damage to the dock.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Weick, J.)

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