Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Blackstock Punitive Damages Background Brought to Light

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Blackstock Punitive Damages Background Brought to Light

Article excerpt

Ben Blackstock, leader of the Oklahomans Against Lawsuit Abuse, a group pushing a bill to limit punitive damages in civil law suits, once sought punitive damages in federal court amounting to "10 to 20 percent" of a potential court award, Blackstock said Tuesday.

That is up to twice the proposed limit on punitive damages of 10 percent of the actual damages awarded, which Blackstock's group is promoting as part of House Bill No. 1892. That bill suggests an alternative limit on punitive damages of $250,000.

Blackstock's request for punitive damages in a civil lawsuit in federal court in 1973 was brought to light Tuesday in a news release by the Oklahoma Trial Lawyers Association.

The statewide trial lawyers' group is bitterly opposed to House Bill No. 1892.

Jack Burns, state Capitol lobbyist for the trial lawyers, said:

"Ben Blackstock can't have it both ways. If punitive damages are good for him, surely they're good for the rest of the public."

Blackstock sought the punitive damages in a civil lawsuit he filed against Pete Gootos Buick in 1973 in federal court in Oklahoma City.

"I bought a used Riviera. It was purported to have 15,000 or 16,000 miles on it.

"When the odometer locked up at 19,999, I took it to a shop and had it checked. They told me: "That baby's been rolled back.' It turned out that it had almost twice the purported miles on it, closeto 40,000 miles."

Blackstock sued the car dealer in federal court under the federal odometer statute, which had been recently enacted.

Blackstock, who also is executive director of the Oklahoma Press Association, said:

"I asked them for about 10 to 20 percent in punitive damages, so that is not inconsistent at all with what I am doing with House Bill No. …

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