Beckman Coulter Inc., a manufacturer of instrument systems and other products used in automated laboratory processes, has won a $934 million breach of contract lawsuit against EMS provider Flextronics International Ltd. and its U.S. subsidiary, Flextronics USA Inc.
The Flextronics group, the former Dovatron, was sued by Beckman in the second quarter of 2001. Of the total jury award, which was entered in Orange Country California Superior Court, $931 million was classified as punitive.
The award may be subject to a judicial review, according to Beckman, Fullerton, Calif.
In a statement issued today, Flextronics said it was "appalled" that a case that originated as a $2.2 million "contract dispute" would result in such a large damage settlement.
"We believe that the verdict is clearly unsupported by either the law or the facts and that the award of
punitive damages is excessive and unwarranted, since the jury found only $3 million of actual contract and tort damages to Beckman,""said Michael Marks, chief executive of Flextronics, in a statement.
Flextronics said it would contest the award on the grounds that it violated state laws limiting punitve damages to about four times compensatory damages.
"We intend to mount a vigorous challenge of this run-away jury verdict, and are fully confident that this award will be almost entirely eliminated in subsequent legal proceedings," Marks said.
"That this irrational verdict could be rendered, even if subsequently corrected, exemplifies the need for reform of a legal system in which juries are allowed to impose absurd punitive damages," he said.