Law360 reports that a jury in Los Angeles superior court has imposed $3 billion in punitive damages, on top of $7 billion in compensatory damages, against a man accused of swindling his two brothers out of their share of a real estate partnership.

When this blog launched in 2008, billion-dollar punitive damages awards were a once-in-a-decade phenomenon, at best.  Since then, juries have been increasingly willing to award billions. To date, no such award was survived posttrial and appellate review in California.  One obvious question raised by this award is whether the defendant really has the resources to support it.  California courts follow a rule of thumb that punitive damages awards generally should not exceed 10 percent of a defendant’s net worth. Can this defendant be worth $10 billion, after subtracting the $7 billion compensatory award?