The Montana case enters the home stretch. The state Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow, 13 September, at the Northern Hotel in Billings during the State Bar of Montana’s Annual Meeting (announcement 1, announcement 2). An introduction to the argument will begin at 9:30 a.m., with the argument starting at 10 a.m. (4 p.m. UTC, 9 a.m. SF time, 12 a.m. NY time, 5 p.m. London time, 2 a.m. Saturday Sydney time). The hearing will be streamed online here: http://stream.vision.net/MT-gov/
Background (according to the Court's site):
In 2004, two congregants informed the Elders of the Thompson Falls Congregation that congregant Maximo Reyes had sexually abused them when they were children. The Thompson Falls Elders contacted the Elders at the Christian Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses and the legal department at Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) for advice. Per the advice they received, the Thompson Falls Elders kept the matter confidential and did not report it to authorities.
Beginning in 2002, Reyes began to sexually abuse his step-granddaughter, who also attended services at the Thompson Falls Kingdom Hall, often accompanied by Reyes. In 2016, Reyes’ step-granddaughter filed this complaint, alleging Defendants had failed to report abuse as mandated by § 41-3-201(2)(h), and that Defendants were liable for the harm she suffered from Reyes’ abuse after they were told of Reyes abusing other children. The District Court found the Defendants liable for her harm as a matter of law. A jury awarded her compensatory damages of $4 million and punitive damages of $31 million. The District Court upheld the punitive damages award upon review.
On appeal, Defendants argue that: the District Court erred in finding Defendants liable as a matter of law; the jury’s award of punitive damages is not justified; the District Court erred in upholding punitive damages in excess of the statutory cap; and the punitive damages against Defendant Watchtower violates the U.S. Constitution.
Watchtower's opening brief: https://juddocumentservice.mt.gov/getDocByCTrackId?DocId=274396
Plaintiff's response brief: https://juddocumentservice.mt.gov/getDocByCTrackId?DocId=280757
Watchtower's reply brief: https://juddocumentservice.mt.gov/getDocByCTrackId?DocId=284155
Montana Attorney General's brief (defending constitutionality of the state's $10 million punitive damages cap): https://juddocumentservice.mt.gov/getDocByCTrackId?DocId=285206