A Blow to Big Business

The Supreme Court upholds a punitive $1 million jury verdict

On Jan. 23, 1982, Cleopatra Haslip was admitted to a hospital emergency room. While the diagnosis was disturbing -- a kidney infection -- Haslip rested more easily knowing that her insurance policy would cover her medical expenses. But she soon discovered that the insurance agent, Lemmie Ruffin, had pocketed her payments, leaving her with no protection. Haslip, a mother of five who made $8,800 a year as an employee of Roosevelt City, Ala., found herself stuck with $3,500 in medical bills. As a result, her credit rating was ruined and she was successfully sued by her doctor. Enraged, Haslip filed a...

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