Sterling v. Velsicol Chem. Corp

In Sterling v. Velsicol Chem. Corp., 855 F.2d 1188 (6th Cir. 1988), a class action lawsuit was brought against a chemical corporation for personal injuries and property damage sustained by residents who lived near the corporation's chemical waste burial site. The federal trial court entered judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on legal theories of strict liability, common law negligence, trespass, and nuisance. It "awarded five representative members of the class compensatory damages for their personal injuries, as well as property damages, plus prejudgment interest on the entire award." Id. at 1192. In addition, the court awarded punitive damages to the class. The corporation appealed. Among other issues, the Sixth Circuit reviewed the compensatory damage award. In particular, it considered the corporation's claim of excessiveness. The court noted that, "when considering whether an award is so excessive, this court considers other awards in other cases, as well as the nature and extent of the injuries." Id. at 1207.