California’s claim against IBM to win $US3.2bn in damages from ice-maker
The California Supreme Court on Wednesday overturned a $US1.2 billion verdict against IBM and awarded the firm a $AU2.7 billion damages award against the state of California.
The high court said the California Legislature had overstepped its bounds in enacting a law that is unconstitutional because it is a “burden on individuals and businesses to determine the extent of the damage inflicted by other parties on the property of others.”
The ruling was handed down by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan.
“The Legislature’s actions were not the appropriate means for determining the damage,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.
The court said that IBM’s actions “contributed to a state of disrepair” and that “it is the Legislature’s burden to decide the extent to which damages will be awarded.”IBM, which is based in San Jose, California, filed suit in 2015 against the California Coastal Commission and the state after the state failed to remove ice from its waters.
In response, the company sought to have the state force it to repair a section of the coast known as the Ice Barrier, which separates San Diego County from the state.
In a motion filed with the court, the state argued that it was the duty of the state to protect its waters from ice that might accumulate during the ice age and said that “some people and businesses may find that it is not an acceptable use of their time and resources to be responsible for protecting this property.”
“These actions are intended to impose a cost on California’s residents and business, and not on others,” Roberts said.
“If it is possible for a state to impose costs on others, then the Legislature should have done so in this case, but this is not the case,” Roberts added.
“In this case the legislature has oversteached its bounds, and it has exceeded its bounds.”
A separate court ordered the state and IBM to pay damages to California’s farmers.