Lewellen v. FranklinAnnotate this Case
Lillian Lewellen brought an action against Chad Franklin National Auto Sales North, LLC (National) and its owner, Chad Franklin, for fraudulent misrepresentation and unlawful merchandising practices under the Missouri Merchandising Practice Act. A jury awarded Lewellen actual damages of $25,000, assessed jointly and severally against both defendants. The jury also awarded Lewellen $1 million in punitive damages against Franklin and National on both counts. Pursuant to Mo. Rev. Stat. 510.265, the circuit court reduced the punitive damages awards against Franklin and National to $500,000 and $539,050, respectively. Lewellen appealed her punitive damages award, claiming that her constitutional right to trial by jury was violated when the trial court reduced the punitive damages award on her fraudulent misrepresentation claim against Franklin. The Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court’s judgment in all respects except for the portion applying section 510.265 to the punitive damages award assessed against Franklin for fraudulent misrepresentation, holding that the mandatory reduction of Lewellen’s punitive damages award against Franklin under section 510.265 violated Lewellen’s right to a trial by jury.