In an amicus brief filed this morning, TCJL asks the Court to reconsider its decision to decline review of one of the largest punitive damages awards in recent years. The case, Host Marriott, LP v. Keystone-Texas Property Holding Company (12-0289), arose out of a contract dispute involving the San Antonio Marriott River Center Hotel and Mall and the Pennsylvania Teachers Retirement System. TCJL and TXOGA filed a joint brief supporting Marriott’s petition for review of the San Antonio Court of Appeals’ decision reinstating a $50 million punitive damages award.
The brief argues that the San Antonio Court of Appeals has significantly watered down the legislatively mandated “malice” standard for punitive damages, thus raising the alarming potential for awarding punitive damages on a showing of little more than ordinary negligence. We believe this result violates both the Texas Supreme Court’s holding in Moriel and the Legislature’s subsequent codification of the law in 1995. There are other significant issues in the Court of Appeals’ decision as well, not the least of which is the substantial blurring of the line between contract and tort damages. At the very least, the SCOT should rehear the case to clarify the evidentiary standard necessary to justify the extreme remedy of punitive damages.