Punitive Damages - Retroactivity - Appeal

Mr. McReynolds handled this appeal when the plaintiff in survival and wrongful death action sought punitive damages against asbestos manufacturers. The Supreme Court reversed the district and appellate courts and held that repealed Civil Code Article 2315.3, which allowed recovery of punitive damages for injuries arising out of wanton or reckless disregard for public safety in the storage, handling or transportation of toxic substances, could not be applied retroactively to asbestos exposure to manufacturer’s products that ended before the statute was enacted, even though the cause of action for wrongful death accrued while the statute was in effect. Significantly, the Supreme Court held that the law in effect at the time a cause of action occurs does not apply if the new law re-evaluates the legality of past conduct or "attaches new consequences to past events."
Anderson v. Avondale Industries, 2000-27 (La. 10/16/01), 798 So.2d 93.