During 2009 the value of the top five product-defect verdicts rose by 53 percent, representing a $620 million loss for the business world. The news provider is citing the recession and its resulting 10 percent unemployment rate as factors in jurors' decisions to penalize large companies.
"It's a reflection of the fact that Main Street is hurting," plaintiff attorney Tobias Millrood, who himself successfully sued Pfizer for $34 million last year, tells Bloomberg News. "In this climate, there's a strong identification with the little man. Now a keener eye is given to the actions of big business."
Five of the fifty largest verdicts of 2009 involved claims on defective goods, the largest of which was a $300 million award against a Philip Morris unit in Florida.
Though there has been a significant rise in product liability verdicts over 2008, the peak for liability lawyers occurred in 2000 when 10 such verdicts cracked the top 50 legal awards of the year.