Court vacates $12 million award to local broker

October 10, 1991|By Joel McCord | Joel McCord,Annapolis Bureau of The Sun

ANNAPOLIS -- The Court of Special Appeals has thrown out a $12.5 million civil award against a New York-based insurance firm that a Baltimore broker had accused of cheating him out of about $250,000 in commissions.

The actions of Alexander and Alexander Services Inc. may have been "excessive, ill-motivated, and, in retrospect, stupid," Maryland's second-highest court held, but the award was "far in excess of the actual harm caused."

B. Dixon Evander and Associates, Inc., the Baltimore firm, was the agent that acquired medical malpractice insurance for the University of Maryland Hospital and its staff from 1962 until 1985, when the hospital hired Alexander and Alexander.

Mr. Evander's firm sued, arguing that Alexander and Alexander conspired to take away the business and to keep the company from getting a commission it was owed.

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury agreed in May 1990 and awarded the company $40 million in punitive damages. Judge Meyer Cardin reduced that to $12.5 million.

In a 59-page opinion issued Monday, the Court of Special Appeals upheld the verdict and the $250,052 compensatory damage award but said the punitive damages were excessive. It was far greater than the $7.5 million awarded against Potomac Electric in a 1989 case in which a child was killed.

The court sent the case back to Baltimore for a new trial to determine punitive damages.

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