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Legal Publisher Ordered to Pay $5-Million in Damages to 2 Professors

A federal jury has ordered the West Publishing Corporation to pay $2.5-million in punitive damages and $90,000 in actual damages to each of two law professors who said the publisher had put their names on an annual supplement to a leading Pennsylvania lawbook even though they had refused to work on the supplement in a dispute over pay. According to today’s Philadelphia Inquirer, the jury found that the publishing company had defamed the law professors—David Rudovsky of the University of Pennsylvania and Leonard N. Sosnov of Widener University—by using their names to help sell the supplement and damaging their reputations when readers discovered the supplement contained little new material. The book, covering criminal-court procedures and used by judges, lawyers, and law schools around the state, was originally published in 1991, and the authors provided annual supplements until 2008, when West sought to cut their fee from $10,000 to $2,500. A lawyer for West, a leading legal publisher based in Minnesota, said the verdict and damages would be appealed.

Correction (6 p.m.): This post has been updated to reflect the fact that each professor was awarded $2.5-million in punitive damages and $90,000 in actual damages. The damages were not to be split between the professors.

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