Judge reduces damage award

September 12, 1990|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Evening Sun Staff

Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Meyer M. Cardin has reduced punitive damage award against Alexander & Alexander Services Inc. from $40 million to $12.5 million, saying in his oral opinion that the original award was "outrageous or outlandish."

But Alexander & Alexander, a New York insurance brokerage firm, will appeal the decision because it does not believe punitive damages should be awarded in the case.

A lawyer for B. Dixon Evander, the insurance broker that brought the case, was pleased by the Aug. 31 decision, saying that it should be more defensible on appeal.

"We are heartened by the trial court's recognition of the problems with the original verdict," said William W. Cahill, Alexander & Alexander's attorney. "However, we believe that any award of punitive damages in this case is unwarranted," he said in a prepared statement. "This judgment will be appealed."

Alexander & Alexander, which is based in New York, is a global insurance brokerage that has offices in more than 70 countries.

On May 2 a jury awarded the original amount to Evander, a Baltimore insurance broker. The case involved a dispute over $250,000 in insurance commissions that grew out of an action by the University of Maryland Hospital switching its business from Evander to Alexander & Alexander.

Including the compensation for the commissions, interest, and judgments against other defendants in the case, Evander was awarded $13.5 million in Cardin's decision, according to Edward J. Birrane, the attorney for Evander.

Birrane said he was pleased that Cardin did not order a new trial and that he determined that Evander was entitled to part of the XTC award. He said the reduction will actually help his client's case on appeal. "It makes it an eminently defensible decision that can be defended in appellate courts," Birrane said.

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