Over the past six years, our firm has represented the City of Columbus, Georgia, Columbus boat dealer John Tharpe, and Columbus homeowner Owen Ditchfield in a U.S. District Court case against Continental Carbon Company and its corporate parent company, China Synthetic Rubber Corp. The claims against Continental Carbon involve air emissions of “carbon black” from its Phenix City, Alabama plant that have seriously damaged our clients’ property and exposed them to potentially unsafe levels of this substance. In August of 2004, a federal jury heard the evidence against Continental Carbon and CSRC and awarded our clients a $20.7 million dollar verdict. The verdict was subsequently upheld by U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller.
Following the trial court’s decision, the Defendants appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. On March 21, 2007, the Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s decision in its entirety and upheld the jury’s award of both compensatory and punitive damages in a very strong opinion. Soon after, Continental Carbon and CSRC filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court. In its petition, the Defendants asked the Court to hear its appeal and reduce the jury’s $17.5 Million punitive damage award. In our clients’ response to the Defendants’ petition we argued that the jury’s verdict was properly upheld by both the District Court and the Court of Appeals and that no further appeals should be considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. We are hopeful that the Court will deny Continental Carbon’s petition in the very near future.
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