No issue divides consumers and executives more than jury awards of gazillions of dollars in punitive damages against companies for making faintly faulty products. Business was thus overjoyed last week when the Supreme Court for the first time struck down a punitive award as "excessive" and thus a violation of the constitutional requirement of due process of law. In a 5-to-4 ruling, the high court threw out a $2 million damage award to an Alabama man who bought a new $40,000 BMW 535i without knowing that it had a slightly spruced-up paint job. BMW said it spent...

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