Roy Lohr and Larry Randolph, Plaintiffs-appellees, v. State of Florida Department of Corrections, et al., Defendants,ken Ault, Defendant-appellant, 869 F.2d 1456 (11th Cir. 1989)

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U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit - 869 F.2d 1456 (11th Cir. 1989)

April 14, 1989


Keith C. Tischler, Parker, Skelding, Costigan, McVoy & Labasky, Tallahassee, Fla., for defendant-appellant.

Evan I. Fetterman and Salvatore Scibetta, Fetterman & Associates, North Palm Beach, Fla., for plaintiffs-appellees.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Before HILL, VANCE and CLARK, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM:


In Lohr and Randolph v. State of Florida, 835 F.2d 1404 (11th Cir. 1987), this court affirmed the decision of the trial court denying Ault's request for a new trial and upholding the award of damages as to Randolph. However, we reserved ruling on the award of damages as to Lohr in order to certify a question to the Florida Supreme Court. In a separate opinion at 835 F.2d 1402, we certified to the Florida Supreme Court the question of whether, in Florida, a compensatory damages award must underlie a punitive damages award in a case in which the jury has made express findings against a defendant.

The Florida Supreme Court has answered the question in the negative, concluding that a jury finding of liability is the equivalent of finding nominal damages, and consequently, the jury may assess punitive damages. Ault v. Lohr, 538 So. 2d 454 (1989).

In light of this authoritative interpretation of state law, the judgment of the district court upholding the award of punitive damages as to Lohr is AFFIRMED.