Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Two Judgments of Over a Billion Dollars Against Individuals

It’s not every day that you hear of a court ordering an individual to pay over a billion dollars in damages. I just heard of two separate cases.

Adam Guerbuez of Montreal was ordered to pay Facebook just over a billion dollars for sending spam messages.

Former Société Générale SA trader Jerome Kerviel was convicted of trading fraud and ordered to pay his former employer US$6.7 billion in damages.

It’s hard to understand the purpose of judgments that are so far beyond the means of these people. I suppose it sends some sort of message. Unfortunately, the message I hear is “we’re not very good at math.”


  1. I hope vigilant stock analysts are able to spot a suspicious $6.7 billion increase in SG's accounts receivable entry and classify it as doubtful. :-D

  2. @Gene: Good one. Thanks for the chuckle.

  3. @Thicken: OK, I can see the point of getting a large judgment, but presumably some number in the millions would have been large enough to achieve the same goal. Maybe it doesn't matter once you get well beyond the individual's means, but it makes the court look a little silly to be awarding billions from a person of modest means.

    1. The comment above is a reply to Thicken My Wallet's comment:

      Successful plaintiffs (in Ontario at least) register a writ against the defendant. Even if you don't collect a cent, the writ prevents the defendant from effectively obtaining credit or selling their home (without paying the plaintiff something) and allows garnishment of wages.

      Yes, you will never collect these staggering amounts but it tends to leave a large black mark against the defendant.