The figures above are so disproportionate to the damages that Bouchard actually suffered that they offend my sense of justice. By what reasoning her returning to work after a few months of rehabilitation would merit $50 million, when the prizes she'd compete for during that period would be one tenth or one fifth of that amount, and she had no guarantee or high chance of getting them if she hadn't been injured in the first place? Or take your second example. Bouchard was in a position where she was making a substantial income from endorsements (around $6m yearly) and almost nothing from actually playing (about half a million yearly). Essentially she had parlayed certain earlier achievements (earlier slam performance, top 5 position) and some characteristics (looks, personality, country of birth, social media activity) into a highly endorsed profile, and that was likely to continue for many years. Like Wozniacki before her, who capitalized on her #1 position and sunshine image to make lots of money from endorsements even with less than stellar play for 5 years until her resurgence, there was no evidence that Bouchard would suddenly either lose her endorsement profile or substantially improve on it depending on the accident. So a player that makes $6.5 million per year continues to make roughly this amount, and even if she doesn't play for a few years, still probably makes $4-5 million per year from endorsements. How can an actual loss of let's say $3-5 million in your example be magnified to $100 million?Here are the likely amounts that plaintiffs and lawyers would ask in a case like this:
If plaintiff could return to work after a reasonable amount of rehabilitation = $50 million
If plaintiff is sidelined for a few years = $100 million
If plaintiff never plays again = $200 - $300 million
These are based on the (high) profile of the plaintiff, potential earning power on and off court, age of the plaintiff (Bouchard's age at the time of the fall would have been discussed throughly in court to make the jury furious at the USTA), and other intangibles like suffering as a result of defendant's negligence. The younger the plaintiff, the more and longer she could potentially suffer.
Part of the problem is this kind of reasoning. The fact that Bouchard was in the USO R4 and would be in the Beijing or AO draws doesn't mean it was very likely for her to collect the top prizes in all these tournaments. It is not right to just add up the potential prizes she might get and say that these are her losses. Some calculation of her chances of progressing to the top prizes, based on the evidence of her form and results near the time of the accident is in order. And once you do this, as I did in the post you quoted, you find that with reasonable assumptions her expected on-court earnings are way lower than these figures. I estimated about $200,000 in lost prize money, and maybe her lawyers would argue differently and convince a reasonable jury of $500,000, but not of $10m.However, just because you ask for a certain amount of money doesn't mean you would get it, but setting an amount is a good starting point. If you want 20, you ask for 50. If you add up the winner's prize for all the categories that Bouchard was still competing in at the U.S. Open, that would have been millions. Then add all the winner's prize for all the tournaments she was scheduled to play during the time she was sidelined on top of tangibles and intangibles like, age, potential off court earnings, bonus from WTA and sponsors, lost potential income from new sponsors, exhibitions, modeling, etc., and you'd have a figure to work from. When you add up everything, $10 - 15 million is actually quite reasonable and that was why the USTA/insurer was willing to settle for this rumored amount.
The above reasoning is like somebody destroying a lottery ticket I bought before the draw, and me claiming that my damages aren't the cost of the ticket or its expected value at the time, but the jackpot because in theory I could win that. Or assessing the lifetime income of a regular 25 year-old working at a run-of-the-mill job for a disability or wrongful death case, and instead of assigning something like $50k per year saying "but what if he decided to invest in some excellent opportunity or founded the next Apple, it should be $10m per year".
Age and off-court earnings don't seem to be relevant, because as far as I know Bouchard isn't claiming some permanent damage from the incident for her age to matter, and because she wasn't prevented from doing her regular off-court activities for any substantial period of time. So any damages for off-court earnings should be very limited - based on any activities in the couple of weeks immediately following the accident that she couldn't reschedule, which should be few. You could consider hypothetical scenarios like her winning the 2015 USO and the effect this would have on her sponsorship income, but this would have to get grounded with the actual probability of happening, and therefore its effect on damages would be limited too, a few hundred thousand dollars instead of tens of millions.
The fact that Hogan got an even more absurd award doesn't stop Bouchard's award from being excessive as analyzed earlier. The only way that would change that would be either learning that the award in Bouchard's case was substantially lower, or a detailed justification of higher actual damages that she suffered. Hogan's case just reinforces the point that the U.S. civil justice system produces unrealistic and unfair awards. The Hollywood and football examples are entirely different in my opinion - in those cases, two entities enter into a contract on their own free will, and presumably the paying entity expects that they will get their money's worth, because for example the Hollywood star will draw people to see the movie and gross ten times her own compensation.If you argue this amount of money is outrageous, then isn't a Hollywood star getting millions per movie, or a soccer star getting 100s of millions to kick a ball not outrageous? Lawsuits follow precedents set in the past. That's why defense lawyers don't like to disclose settlement amounts to avoid setting precedents. If Hulk Hogan got $140 million against Gawker for invasion of privacy and a few other complaints, how can you say what Bouchard got was excessive?
You seem to be familiar with civil lawsuits, so maybe you know better, but to me the USTA/insurer's approach in the trial made no sense. It should have been fairly obvious that some liability would be assigned to them based on the testimonies of their personnel, and their lawyers should have anticipated that. Their strength came not in the liability phase, but in the damages phase, because so many of Bouchard's claims were clearly inflated and could be attacked. They also seem to have gotten favorable rulings from the judge for arguing core elements of their case (revealing Bouchard's endorsements and their not being affected by her injury, using her social media postings to show her frame of mind and minimal impact of the injury on her). So I expected them to just shrug the 75% liability finding (absolutely expected given their own witnesses) and pounce on the many weaknesses of Bouchard's case on the award phase.This case should never have gone to trial. As it stands, the mid-trial settlement would have cost the USTA (insurer) a great deal more than if they had settled before the trial. The risky legal strategy for the defense was to see how the jury would rule. Because the jury basically took no time to rule in Bouchard's favor, the USTA counsel knew on Thursday night they had to settle or face the fury from the jury in the form of a large judgment.
On second thought, the only way that USTA's stance to fold just before arguing the core of their case makes sense is if the settlement amount is really low (e.g., around $1m). That would also be consistent with the Bouchards' unwillingness to accept it.