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Consumer Protection Punitive Damages Upheld

In action under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, evidence sufficient for a submissible case against business owner individually included owner’s participation in similar solicitations and repeated complaints against business for conduct alleged. Jury need not believe owner’s denial of involvement. “This was not isolated conduct of a single errant salesperson.” Due process bars an award that arbitrarily takes property and exceeds legitimate purposes, but punitive damages judgment at statutory maximum does neither. Because statute creates action, it may cap damages under that action and make exceptions to such cap, without violating constitutional provisions for right to jury, separation of powers, equal protection, special legislation, and due process.
Estate of Max E. Overbey, Deceased, and Glenna J. Overbey, Appellants/Cross-Respondents vs. Chad Franklin National Auto Sales North, LLC, Respondent, and Chad Franklin, Respondent/Cross-Appellant.
(Overview Summary)
Missouri Supreme Court - SC91369