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Treble damages under Sales Rep Act not subject to Punitive Damages Act

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The Indiana Supreme Court unanimously held Thursday that treble damages under the Sales Representative Act are not subject to the Punitive Damages Act.

The justices granted transfer to and reversed the trial court’s ruling which agreed with Mor/Ryde International Inc. that the punitive damages restrictions apply to an action pending against the company. Ralph Andrews sued the company after Mor/Ryde terminated his contract with the company. Ralph worked as an independent commissioned sales rep for the company for 12 years and argued that it owed him unpaid commissions. He sought recovery under the Sales Representative Act, which allows for companies to be held liable for exemplary damages in an amount no more than three times the sum of the commissions owed to the sales rep.

On interlocutory appeal, a split Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court. But in Ralph Andrews v. Mor/Ryde International, Inc., 20S04-1406-PL-399, the justices reversed the trial court, citing Judge Michael Barnes’ dissent.

“We agree with Judge Barnes that Obremski’s distinction between common-law punitive damages and statutory exemplary damages is controlling here. While the Punitive Damages Act was enacted to drastically restrict recovery in light of perceived abuses at common law generally, the Sales Representative Act’s treble-damage provisions at issue here — like the similar Crime Victims Relief Act provisions in (Obremski v. Henderson, 497 N.E.2d 909, 911 (Ind. 1986)) — were enacted to increase recovery from what the common law would otherwise permit. We think it highly unlikely that the Legislature would expand a remedy with one hand (the Sales Representative Act or the Crime Victims Relief Act), while restricting it with the other (the Punitive Damages Act),” Justice Loretta Rush wrote.
She noted that the Legislature could have abolished Obremski’s distinction between common law and statutory punitive damages as part of major 1995 amendments to the Punitive Damages Act, but chose not to do so.

“… we find it instructive that an amendment that dramatically increased the reach of the Punitive Damages Act nevertheless did not include a change extending it to encompass statutory treble damages,” she wrote.

 

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  1. I just wanted to point out that Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, Senator Feinstein, former Senate majority leader Bill Frist, and former attorney general John Ashcroft are responsible for this rubbish. We need to keep a eye on these corrupt, arrogant, and incompetent fools.

  2. Well I guess our politicians have decided to give these idiot federal prosecutors unlimited power. Now if I guy bounces a fifty-dollar check, the U.S. attorney can intentionally wait for twenty-five years or so and have the check swabbed for DNA and file charges. These power hungry federal prosecutors now have unlimited power to mess with people. we can thank Wisconsin's Jim Sensenbrenner and Diane Feinstein, John Achcroft and Bill Frist for this one. Way to go, idiots.

  3. I wonder if the USSR had electronic voting machines that changed the ballot after it was cast? Oh well, at least we have a free media serving as vicious watchdog and exposing all of the rot in the system! (Insert rimshot)

  4. Jose, you are assuming those in power do not wish to be totalitarian. My experience has convinced me otherwise. Constitutionalists are nearly as rare as hens teeth among the powerbrokers "managing" us for The Glorious State. Oh, and your point is dead on, el correcta mundo. Keep the Founders’ (1791 & 1851) vision alive, my friend, even if most all others, and especially the ruling junta, chase only power and money (i.e. mammon)

  5. Hypocrisy in high places, absolute immunity handed out like Halloween treats (it is the stuff of which tyranny is made) and the belief that government agents are above the constitutions and cannot be held responsible for mere citizen is killing, perhaps has killed, The Republic. And yet those same power drunk statists just reel on down the hallway toward bureaucratic fascism.

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