Jodee R. Rankin is a 2019 Judge K.K. Legett Fellow at Washington Legal Foundation who will be entering her third year at Texas Tech University School of Law in the fall.

The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail, excessive fines, and cruel and unusual punishment. Yet while these constitutional limits on governmental powers have protected individuals, the protection of corporations from excessive fines has remained a long-standing question. But, last month, the Colorado Supreme Court, in Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Division of Workers’ Compensation  v. Dami Hospitality, WL 2332246 (Colo. June 3, 2019), concluded that the protections of the Excessive Fines Clause are not so limited—corporations are clearly covered by the text and the purpose of the Eighth Amendment.

The Colorado case involved the owner-operator of a Denver motel, employing four to ten employees at a given time. As an employer, Dami was required to maintain workers’ compensation insurance. When the Division of Workers’ Compensation discovered that Dami’s insurance had lapsed for nearly four years, the Division calculated Dami’s fine under the applicable statutory and regulatory framework. The resulting fine amounted to $841,200.00—an amount that exceeded the motel’s annual income.