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Judge cuts $25-million verdict down to $2 million

Portsmouth Circuit Judge James Hawks called the verdict for a merchant seaman “appallingly excessive.”

The verdict – for $20 million compensatory damages and $5 million in punitives – was among the largest ever reported in Virginia, but the defendant shipping line protested it was far out of line for a claim of failure to provide adequate medical attention.

As The Virginian-Pilot reports, Hawks agreed. He eliminated the punitive award and ordered the plaintiff to accept a judgment of $2 million or submit to a new trial.

Plaintiff’s lawyer James Chapman said the plaintiff is considering his options.

By Peter Vieth