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Montana Supreme Court sends back $52 million case, foregoes decision on punitive damages cap


HELENA, Montana — The Montana Supreme Court has overturned a $52 million jury verdict in a breach of contract case, but justices did not rule on the constitutionality of the state's $10 million cap on punitive damages.

The court on Wednesday sent the case back to District Court in Butte for a new trial, saying Masters Group International's lawsuit against Comerica Bank should have been tried under Michigan law, where Comerica was previously headquartered.

The Supreme Court, therefore, did not rule on the question of whether Montana juries should be allowed to award more than $10 million in punitive damages.

The Silver Bow County jury had unanimously decided Comerica was in breach of contract and was liable for $52 million in damages to Masters Group for ultimately thwarting its effort to open an office supply distribution business in Butte. The award included $10.5 million in punitive damages.

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