In re Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos Human Rights Litigation

910 F. Supp. 1460 (1995)

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In re Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos Human Rights Litigation

United States District Court for the District of Hawaii
910 F. Supp. 1460 (1995)

Facts

Ferdinand E. Marcos, the former president of the Philippines, fled the Philippines for Hawaii. While Marcos was living in Hawaii, a class-action lawsuit was filed by plaintiffs who had been tortured, summarily executed, and forcibly disappeared. Because Marcos died while the litigation was pending, the estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos (the estate) (defendant) was substituted for Marcos. The suit involved the valid claims of 9,541 plaintiffs and three trial phases: liability, punitive damages, and compensatory damages. A jury determined that the estate was liable and awarded punitive damages. For the third phase, regarding compensatory damages, the district court permitted the jury to assess the damages suffered by a random sample of 137 class members as representative of the damages experienced by all 9,541 claimants within three subclasses of plaintiffs, comprising those who suffered torture, summary executions, and forced disappearances. An expert in survey sampling and inferential statistics, James Dannemiller, testified regarding the validity of survey sampling and a confidence rate of 95 percent. The district court decided the depositions of 137 class members should be taken and appointed a special master to supervise the depositions and make recommendations to the jury regarding compensatory damages for both the 137 class members in the random sample and for the nonsample plaintiffs. The estate was provided notice of the depositions but did not participate or attend any of them. The estate did not take depositions of the nonsample members. The special master developed a report and recommended a standard amount of damages to be assessed for the victims in the three subclasses. The jury was instructed that it could accept, alter, or decline the special master’s recommendations. Additionally, the jury could develop its own independent damages assessment. The estate asserted that the random sample of the damages of 137 plaintiffs as representative of damages suffered by all plaintiffs in the class in an aggregate trial violated due process and the right to a trial by jury.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Real, J.)

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