Logourl black
From our private database of 14,000+ case briefs...

Pacific Mutual Life Ins. Co. v. Haslip

United States Supreme Court
499 U.S. 1 (1991)


Facts

Health insurance premiums of Cleopatra Haslip  and others (plaintiffs) were paid to Lemmie Ruffin, Jr., an agent (defendant) of Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. (Pacific Mutual) (defendant). The agent misappropriated the premiums. When Haslip was hospitalized, she could not secure insurance coverage to pay for her treatment. Consequently, a judgment for medical debt was rendered against her. Plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against Pacific Mutual and its agent in an Alabama state court. At trial, in accordance with Alabama state law, the court instructed the jurors that if they found defendants liable for fraud, they could choose to award—or not—punitive damages in order to “punish” defendants and “protect[ ] the public.” The court further instructed the jurors that they were to consider, in making a punitive damages determination, “the character and the degree of the wrong” as well as the need to prevent similar wrongs in the future. Defendants did not object to the charge as being too general, nor did they request more specific instructions. The jury found in favor of plaintiffs and awarded punitive damages. The Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the award after considering it in relation to numerous factors. Pacific Mutual petitioned the United States Supreme Court for certiorari, asserting that the degree of discretion given to the jury violated its rights of due process.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Issue

The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A “yes” or “no” answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Concurrence (Scalia, J.)

The concurrence section is for members only and includes a summary of the concurring judge or justice’s opinion.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Concurrence (Kennedy, J.)

The concurrence section is for members only and includes a summary of the concurring judge or justice’s opinion.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Dissent (O’Connor, J.)

The dissent section is for members only and includes a summary of the dissenting judge or justice’s opinion.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 173,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.