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ANCHORAGE-Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles is expected to sign a bill that would limit civil damage awards.
The legislation, approved April 21 by state lawmakers, would cap punitive damages at the greater of $500,000 or three times compensatory damages. However, in cases involving commercial activities, the punitive award would be capped at the greater of $7 million, or four times the amount of financial gain that resulted from the defendant's misconduct. The bill provides for the higher limits only if the plaintiff proves that the conduct was motivated by financial gain, and the likelihood of damage must have been known.
Punitive damage caps for illegal employment practices would vary, depending on company size. For companies with fewer than 100 employees, the cap would be $200,000, rising to $500,000 for companies with 500 or more employees.
The legislation also would limit compensatory awards for non-economic damages to the greater of $400,000 or $8,000 per year of the plaintiff's life expectancy. In cases of severe injury, the limit would be $1 million or $25,000 per year of the plaintiff's life expectancy.
The governor is expected to sign the final version of H.B. 58 because the bill resulted from a compromise with the legislation's sponsor, Rep. Brian Porter, according to a spokesman for the governor.