U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court Turns Down File-Sharing Appeal Challenging Remittitur Procedure
Posted May 21, 2012 10:26 AM CST
By Debra Cassens Weiss
The U.S. Supreme Court won’t hear the case of Joel Tenenbaum, a doctoral graduate who was originally ordered to pay $675,000 for downloading copyrighted music.
The trial judge had found the verdict was constitutionally excessive and reduced the amount to $67,500. On appeal the Boston-based 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the judge should have avoided the constitutional question through remittitur. The court reinstated the $675,000 award, but ordered the trial judge to consider remittitur.
A Supreme Court petition filed by Harvard University law professor Charles Nesson had objected to the remittitur procedure because it allows the plaintiffs to reject the reduced award and opt for a retrial. “The 1st Circuit’s misuse of remittitur threatens to push the defendant down an endless litigation rathole,” Nesson argues. The prospect of a “retrial merry-go-round” forces defendants to settle, avoiding the constitutional issues, he wrote.