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Tort Law Case Analysis

Tort Law Case Analysis

Parties: BMW of North America Inc. v. Gore

Court and Date Decided: United States Supreme Alabama Court (May 20, 1996)

Background Facts: BMW brought forward the case to contest an earlier award of $4 million verdict made by the jury’s court. Gore had bought a new BMW automobile from a BMW Company authorized dealer in Alabama. However, he later realized that the car had been repainted. The Supreme Court found BMW liable but reduced compensation from $4 million awarded by the jury to $2 million (US Supreme Court, n.d.).

Case Facts and Its Implications on Business 

Gore bought a new BMW automobile from a BMW dealer in Alabama. He later realized that the BMW vehicle had been repainted and sued the company for damages. The jury found BMW liable and awarded Gore a $4 million compensation (US Supreme Court, n.d.). However, BMW was dissatisfied with the decision and moved to the Supreme Court. In opposing the jury’s decision, BMW argued that it had complied with a nationwide policy that manufacturers should not inform dealers and customers of pre-delivery faults if the cost of repair does not exceed 3% of the item’s retail price (US Supreme Court, n.d.). The Supreme Court agreed with the jury but reduced punitive damages to $2 million and affirmed that the award did not violate due process (US Supreme Court, n.d.).

The primary disagreement between the parties in the case was the extent of the damages to the new car. On the one hand, BMW held that the car only had minor blemishes that would not be costly to the customer. On the other hand, Gore felt that he should have been informed about existing car defects. Alabama Supreme Court agreed with the jury that Gore deserved compensation based on reported damages. In giving the opinion, the justices averred compensation would not violate the due process doctrine. However, the court ruled in favor of Alabama on one critical issue. The court was of the opinion that the jury improperly computed damages, thereby reducing the figure from $4 million to $2 million.

The court’s ruling had positive and negative implications for business. One positive impact is that it protects businesses against excessive punitive damages. It curtailed the practice of awarding extraordinarily high damages disproportional to harm. The ruling also promoted the doctrine of fairness when holding businesses into account. On the other hand, negative impacts include an erosion of deterrence, which means businesses would have little motivation to alleviate harmful practices. Another negative impact is the inconsistent application of business law in lower courts, leading to unpredictability.

Impact of the Court Decision on Legal and Ethical Compliance in a Business Environment

According to Harkin (1999), one of the ethical implications suggested by the court’s decision in the BMW v. Gore case is proportionality, as the court emphasized the need for compensation to align with harm. Another ethical implication was the need to pursue fairness and justice by not over-punishing businesses. The case also had a legal implication that compensation should be subjected to constitutional scrutiny, especially the due process clause of the 14th Constitutional Amendment.

BMW was unethical. The company released a defective car to their Alabama dealer without declaring that it was defective. Such a decision may have been motivated by the desire to make sales. Accordingly, the Kantian theory of ethics may best explain BMW’s behavior. According to the theory, business actions should be guided by moral principles and honesty when dealing with clients. However, BMW violated the requirement by failing to disclose the fact that the car had been repainted.

Impact of the Court’s Decision on Ford Company

The BMW v. Gore case will likely push Ford Company to take product safety seriously. Given the severe implications of punitive damages issued by the court, Ford will ensure its products meet standards to avoid similar lawsuits in the future. The organization’s executive team should base its future decisions on the principle of honesty that aligns with the Kantian theory of ethics. By giving truthful information to clients, they can decide whether they will buy a product, protecting the company from legal suits.


In summary, Tort law protects clients from harmful products or services. Under strict liability, the company responsible for manufacturing a defective product is required to offer monetary compensation that restores a client’s monetary loss and offers extra payment as damages. The BMW Inc. v. Gore court’s decision aligns with Tort law since it led to Gore’s compensation for acquiring a repainted car. Tort law deters companies from engaging in unsafe or dishonest business.


Harkin, D. G. (1999). BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore: A trial judge’s guide to jury instructions and judicial review of punitive damage awards. University of Nevada, Reno.

US Supreme Court. (n.d.). BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996).


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Tort Law Case Analysis

Tort Law Case Analysis

The first step in preparing your case law analysis is to locate a published court decision and select an organization you believe would be impacted by the decision.

Choose a decision about tort law. To help you get started, use the Capella University Library Legal Research Library GuideLinks to an external site. And these well-known searchable databases of court cases. Try to imagine yourself as either the plaintiff or the defendant in the cases you review to make these cases meaningful to your life.
The United States Supreme Court Cases.Links to an external site.
LII: Supreme Court: Most Recent DecisionsLinks to an external site.
Legal Topics.Links to an external site.
Oyez, Inc.Links to an external site.
Select an organization that is not a party to the case and that you believe would be impacted by the court decision. It can be an organization you work for or have worked for, an organization you would like to work for, or some other organization.
Use these resources to help you with this assignment:
Analyzing a Case.
This multimedia walks you through a written court decision and explains each part’s purpose.
Business Law Foundational Concepts.
This multimedia will help you to understand the reading materials and articles you find.
Click Transcript (after you open the multimedia, Transcript is found at the lower right corner of the screen).
Use the transcript as another resource to quickly look up some of the more common terms. This terminology will be useful in personal, scholarly, and professional settings.

Once you have selected a business-related case involving tort law and an organization impacted by the decision, assume you’re a senior manager in the organization you selected and that you were asked to prepare an analysis of the court decision and brief the executive team of the organization about the impact the case might have on the company. Your briefing should include a summary of the case, as well as an evaluation of how the court’s decision impacts the organization from a business, legal, and ethical perspective.

Be sure to list your case citation in the References page at the end of your assignment.

Step 1: Exhibit information literacy skills as applied to business law.

Identify the court, the parties who are before the court, and the date of the decision.
Ensure that your briefing provides an accurate context in terms of who brought the lawsuit and the outcome of the case.
Report research from a recognized authority that adds insight into the meaning, history, or impact of the case with relevant legal research from credible databases or online sources.
Step 2: Summarize the facts and ruling of a legal case and its impact on businesses.

Provide a brief background and context associated with the case. Summarize the facts in no more than 1–2 paragraphs.
Identify the specific disagreement between the parties. Was there a dissenting opinion? If so, explain it.
Summarize the court’s ruling, including its rationale.
Analyze the impact of the case on businesses, including both negative and positive impacts.
Step 3: Explain how the court decision impacts legal and ethical compliance in a business environment.

Identify the ethical and legal implications for a business that were suggested by the court’s decision.
Discuss whether or not the conduct of a party in the case was ethical or unethical.
Propose and explain an ethical theory that describes why a party’s conduct was ethical or unethical.
Step 4: Explain how a legal case could impact a specific organization, not a party to the case.

Explain the impact of the court’s decision on your selected organization. In light of the court’s ruling, how might the executive team of the organization make future decisions or policies?
Additional Requirements
Based on your executive audience, your executive briefing should be no more than three pages, in addition to the References page, and should be well organized and written in clear, succinct language. Follow APA rules for attributing content to sources that support your analysis and conclusions.

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