Sofie v. Fibreboard Corp.

771 P.2d 711 (1989)

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Sofie v. Fibreboard Corp.

Washington Supreme Court
771 P.2d 711 (1989)

DC

Facts

In 1986, the Washington legislature passed a statute that limited noneconomic damages in personal-injury and wrongful-death cases. Under the statute, the trial judge was required to apply a formula that considered the age of the plaintiff at the time of the award to the trier of fact’s damage award. In 1987, following his diagnosis of mesothelioma, Austin Sofie and his wife (plaintiff) sued Fibreboard Corp. and other manufacturers (defendant) for harm to Mr. Sofie caused by his employment-based exposure to asbestos products. A jury ultimately returned a verdict of $1,345,833 for the Sofies, including noneconomic damages for Mr. Sofie’s pain and suffering and Mrs. Sofie’s loss of consortium. Following the verdict, the trial-court judge applied the statutory formula and reduced the noneconomic portion of the verdict from $477,200 to $125,136.45. The Sofies appealed the determination, arguing that the statutory damage cap violated their right to a jury trial under the Washington Constitution.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Utter, J.)

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