CCL filed a brief today in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California defending a jury's assessment of punitive damages against Chrysler for misrepresenting the reliability of the electrical system in a 2012 Jeep.

      In the case, a couple had purchased a 2011 Jeep that had severe electrical system problems that resulted in the vehicle not starting or stalling unexpectedly while on the road. The problems were traced to a module that controlled the electrical system that Chrysler had introduced in 2007, failed repeatedly, and eventually was abandoned by Chrysler. When the couple decided the vehicle was a lemon, Chrysler offered to replace it with a 2012 model that it assured the couple had resolved the problems they experienced. Accepting the offer, the couple soon found the same problems plagued the newer model.

      After Chrysler proved incapable of fixing the car and refused to refund the money, the couple sued. A jury found for the couple, awarding compensatory damages and civil penalties under California's lemon law, as well as compensatory and punitive damages for fraud. The judge, however, took the jury verdict for fraud away, finding the evidence insufficient to support the verdict.

      CCL's Robert Peck argued the appeal of that decision. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit restored the fraud verdict, finding the evidence sufficient, but remanded the case to the district court to make a new determination on punitive damages. Today's brief addressed why the punitive damages were supported by clear and convincing evidence, met the criteria for awarding punitive damages under California law, and were not constitutionally excessive.