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Punitive damages

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Full-Text Articles in Law

Bringing Predictability To The Chaos Of Punitive Damages, W. Kip Viscusi, Benjamin J. Mcmichael Jan 2022

Bringing Predictability To The Chaos Of Punitive Damages, W. Kip Viscusi, Benjamin J. Mcmichael

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Punitive damages remain unique in the American legal system. Awarded in the civil context with none of the protections offered in criminal law, courts levy punitive damages to punish and deter. The Supreme Court of the United States has clearly stated that courts may only seek to achieve these two goals when imposing punitive damages. A closer reading of the Court's punitive damages jurisprudence, however, reveals another goal that has largely been ignored: predictability. Unlike punishment and deterrence, predictability is not a purpose for which to award punitive damages. Instead, the Court requires that, when awarded, the level of punitive …


United States Response To Questionnaire Concerning Copyright In Action: International Perspectives On Remedies, Philippa Loengard, Julia Ambros, Andrew Elliott, Daniel Lee Jul 2018

United States Response To Questionnaire Concerning Copyright In Action: International Perspectives On Remedies, Philippa Loengard, Julia Ambros, Andrew Elliott, Daniel Lee

Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts

ALAI-USA is the U.S. branch of ALAI (Association Littèraire et Artistique Internationale). ALAI-USA was started in the 1980's by the late Professor Melville B. Nimmer, and was later expanded by Professor John M. Kernochan.


Shrinkage Estimation In The Adjudication Of Civil Damage Claims, Hillel J. Bavli, Yang Chen Jan 2017

Shrinkage Estimation In The Adjudication Of Civil Damage Claims, Hillel J. Bavli, Yang Chen

Faculty Journal Articles and Book Chapters

Recent papers have highlighted the use of claim aggregation as a tool for reducing the unpredictability of legal outcomes. Specifically, it has been argued that sampling methods can be used in the class action context, and comparable-case guidance – information regarding awards in comparable cases as guidance for determining damage awards – can be used in the individual-claim context, to reduce variability and improve the accuracy of awards. In this paper, we examine a third form of claim aggregation based on a statistical method called “shrinkage estimation,” which is used to aggregate information and thereby improve estimation. We examine the …


Jay Ordan, Order On Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment, Elizabeth E. Long Jan 2015

Jay Ordan, Order On Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment, Elizabeth E. Long

Georgia Business Court Opinions

No abstract provided.


Toward A Fundamental Right To Evade Law? Protecting The Rule Of Unequal Racial And Economic Power In Shelby County And State Farm, Martha T. Mccluskey Jan 2015

Toward A Fundamental Right To Evade Law? Protecting The Rule Of Unequal Racial And Economic Power In Shelby County And State Farm, Martha T. Mccluskey

Journal Articles

To rationalize its ruling on voting rights, Shelby County, Alabama v. Holder develops a constitutional vision of passivity in the face of institutionalized power to violate the law. This essay compares Shelby County to State Farm Mutual Automobile v. Campbell, a 2003 Supreme Court ruling involving a different subject area, state punitive damage awards. In both, the Court asserts newly articulated judicial power to override other branches, not to protect human rights, but rather to expand institutionalized immunity from those rights. On the surface, the Court’s rejection of state sovereignty in State Farm (protecting multistate corporations from high punitive damages) …


Summary Of D.R. Horton V. Betsinger, 130 Nev. Adv. Op. 84, Gil Kahn Oct 2014

Summary Of D.R. Horton V. Betsinger, 130 Nev. Adv. Op. 84, Gil Kahn

Nevada Supreme Court Summaries

The Court determined that even when a case is remanded only in order for a trier of fact to determine the amount of punitive damages, NRS 42.005(3) requires that same trier of fact to first determine whether such damages are warranted.


Punitive Damages, Chinese Tort Law, And The American Experience, Vincent R. Johnson Jan 2014

Punitive Damages, Chinese Tort Law, And The American Experience, Vincent R. Johnson

Faculty Articles

In a country such as China, with abundant consumer products and the inevitability of product defects, claims for punitive damages are sure to arise under Article 47 of the new Chinese Tort Law. Article 47 provides that “(w)hereany producer or seller knowingly produces or sells defective products, causing death or serious damage to the health of others, the injured party may request appropriate punitive damages.” As Chinese jurists and scholars interpret Article 47, they may wish to consider whether lessons can be drawn from the American experience. During the past two decades, few areas of American law have changed more …


Assessing The Insurance Role Of Tort Liability After Calabresi, W. Kip Viscusi, Joni Hersch Jan 2014

Assessing The Insurance Role Of Tort Liability After Calabresi, W. Kip Viscusi, Joni Hersch

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

Calabresi’s theory of tort liability (1961) as a risk distribution mechanism established insurance as an objective of tort liability. Calabresi’s risk-spreading concept of tort has provided the impetus for much of the subsequent development of tort liability doctrine, including risk-utility analysis and strict liability. Calabresi’s analysis remains a powerful basis for modern tort liability. However, high transactions costs, correlated risks, catastrophic losses, mass toxic torts, shifts in liability rules over time, noneconomic damages, and punitive damages affect the functioning of tort liability as an insurance mechanism. Despite some limitations of tort liability as insurance, tort compensation serves both a compensatory …


Surprisingly Punitive Damages, Bert I. Huang Jan 2014

Surprisingly Punitive Damages, Bert I. Huang

Faculty Scholarship

Damages can add up to super-punitive amounts in unintended ways. To take a textbook example: The Defendant has caused an industrial accident or other mass tort. Plaintiff 1 sues, winning punitive damages based on the reprehensibility of that original act. Plaintiff 2 also sues – and also wins punitive damages on the same grounds. So do Plaintiff 3, Plaintiff 4, and so forth. If each of these punitive awards is directed at the same general badness of that original act, then these punishments are redundant. When such redundancy occurs, even damages that are meant to be punitive can reach surprisingly …


Remedies: A Guide For The Perplexed, Doug Rendleman Apr 2013

Remedies: A Guide For The Perplexed, Doug Rendleman

Scholarly Articles

Remedies is one of a law student’s most practical courses. Remedies students and their professors learn to work with their eyes on the question at the end of litigation: what can the court do for the successful plaintiff? Remedies develops students’ professional identities and broadens their professional horizons by reorganizing their analysis of procedure, torts, contracts, and property around choosing and measuring relief - compensatory damages, punitive damages, an injunction, specific performance, disgorgement, and restitution. This article discusses the law-school course in Remedies - the content of the Remedies course, the Remedies classroom experience, and Remedies outside the classroom through …


A Financial Economic Theory Of Punitive Damages, Robert J. Rhee Oct 2012

A Financial Economic Theory Of Punitive Damages, Robert J. Rhee

UF Law Faculty Publications

This Article provides a financial economic theory of punitive damages. The core problem, as the Supreme Court acknowledged in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, is not the systemic amount of punitive damages in the tort system; rather, it is the risk of outlier outcomes. Low frequency, high severity awards are unpredictable, cause financial distress, and beget social cost. By focusing only on offsetting escaped liability, the standard law and economics theory fails to account for the core problem of variance. This Article provides a risk arbitrage analysis of the relationship between variance, litigation valuation, and optimal deterrence. Starting with settlement …


To Perform Or Pay Damages, Gregory Klass Apr 2012

To Perform Or Pay Damages, Gregory Klass

Georgetown Law Faculty Publications and Other Works

In The Myth of Efficient Breach: New Defenses of the Expectation Interest, Daniel Markovits and Alan Schwartz argue that contractual promises between sophisticated parties are best interpreted as disjunctive promises to perform or pay damages. They further argue that this dual performance hypothesis answers moral critics of the expectation remedy. This comment makes three claims about Markovits and Schwartz's argument. First, although the dual performance hypothesis is supported by Markovits and Schwartz's instrumentalist model, they do not have a good argument that it is empirically correct -- that it is the best interpretation of what sophisticated parties actually intend. …


A Financial Economic Theory Of Punitive Damages, Robert J. Rhee Jan 2012

A Financial Economic Theory Of Punitive Damages, Robert J. Rhee

Faculty Scholarship

This Article provides a financial economic theory of punitive damages. The core problem, as the Supreme Court acknowledged in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, is not the systemic amount of punitive damages in the tort system; rather, it is the risk of outlier outcomes. Low frequency, high severity awards are unpredictable, cause financial distress, and beget social cost. By focusing only on offsetting escaped liability, the standard law and economics theory fails to account for the core problem of variance. This Article provides a risk arbitrage analysis of the relationship between variance, litigation valuation, and optimal deterrence. Starting with …


Debunking The Myth That Insurance Coverage Is Not Available Or Allowed For Intentional Torts Or Damages, Christopher French Jan 2012

Debunking The Myth That Insurance Coverage Is Not Available Or Allowed For Intentional Torts Or Damages, Christopher French

Journal Articles

Over the years, a myth has developed that insurance coverage is not available or allowed for intentional injuries or damage. This myth has two primary bases: one, the “fortuity” doctrine, which provides that insurance should only cover losses that happen by chance; and two, public policy, which allegedly disfavors allowing insurance for intentional injuries or damage. This article dispels that myth. Many types of liability insurance policies expressly cover intentional torts including trademark infringement, copyright infringement, invasion of privacy, defamation, disparagement, and improper employment practices such as discrimination. In addition, punitive damages, which typically are awarded for intentional misconduct, are …


New Private Law Theory And Tort Law: A Comment, Keith N. Hylton Jan 2012

New Private Law Theory And Tort Law: A Comment, Keith N. Hylton

Faculty Scholarship

This comment was prepared for the Harvard Law Review symposium on “The New Private Law,” as a response to Benjamin Zipursky’s principal paper on torts. I find Zipursky’s reliance on Cardozo’s Palsgraf opinion as a foundational source of tort theory troubling, for two reasons. First, Cardozo fails to offer a consistent theoretical framework for tort law in his opinions, many of which are difficult to reconcile with one another. Second, Palsgraf should be understood as an effort by Cardozo to provide greater predictability, within a special class of proximate cause cases, by reallocating decision-making power from juries to judges. It …


Punitive Damages, Due Process, And Employment Discrimination, Joseph Seiner Jan 2012

Punitive Damages, Due Process, And Employment Discrimination, Joseph Seiner

Faculty Publications

The Supreme Court has failed to provide any substantive guidance on when punitive damages are appropriate in employment discrimination cases since it issued its seminal decision in Kolstad v. American Dental Ass'n over twelve years ago. The Court has recently expanded its punitive damages jurisprudence in the high-profile decisions of Philip Morris USA v. Williams and Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker. While these cases dramatically altered the way exemplary relief is analyzed in civil cases, the extent to which these decisions apply in the workplace context remains unclear. Surprisingly, there has been almost no academic literature to date explaining how …


Punitive Damages Vs. The Death Penalty: In Search Of A Unified Approach To Jury Discretion And Due Process Of Law, José F. Anderson Apr 2011

Punitive Damages Vs. The Death Penalty: In Search Of A Unified Approach To Jury Discretion And Due Process Of Law, José F. Anderson

All Faculty Scholarship

The role of the jury in awarding monetary damages to plaintiffs in a wide range of civil cases has captured the attention of the media, contemporary non-fiction writers, and reform-minded politicians in recent years. Particular attention has been focused on huge jury awards, which has led many commentators to criticize the wisdom of permitting juries to move so much money from one place to another. Although the right to a jury trial, and with it the exercise of broad judicial discretion, is constitutionally based, many reform efforts have moved toward removing juries from cases both as to the subject matter …


Capping Incentives, Capping Innovation, Courting Disaster: The Gulf Oil Spill And Arbitrary Limits On Civil Liability, Andrew F. Popper Jan 2011

Capping Incentives, Capping Innovation, Courting Disaster: The Gulf Oil Spill And Arbitrary Limits On Civil Liability, Andrew F. Popper

Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals

Limiting liability by establishing an arbitrary cap on civil damages is bad public policy. Caps are antithetical to the interests of consumers and at odds with the national interest in creating incentives for better and safer products. Whether the caps are on non-economic loss, punitive damages, or set for specific activity, they undermine the civil justice system, deceiving juries and denying just and reasonable compensation for victims in a broad range of fields.

This Article postulates that capped liability on damages for offshore oil spills may well have been an instrumental factor contributing to the recent Deepwater Horizon catastrophe in …


Eliminating The Need For Caps On Title Vii Damage Awards: The Shield Of Kolstad V. American Dental Association, Michael C. Harper Jan 2011

Eliminating The Need For Caps On Title Vii Damage Awards: The Shield Of Kolstad V. American Dental Association, Michael C. Harper

Faculty Scholarship

After recounting the legislative history of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, this article reconsiders the legislative compromise that allowed in this Act for capped compensatory and punitive damages as remedies for Title VII violations. This reconsideration is made in light of the Court’s decision in Kolstad v. American Dental Association, granting employers protection from a punitive damage remedy if they can demonstrate a good faith effort to comply with the Act. The article argues that this holding obviates the need for damage cap protection of innocent employers. It does so by enabling employers to shield themselves from the threat …


Clearing Civil Procedure Hurdles In The Quest For Justice, Suzette M. Malveaux Jan 2011

Clearing Civil Procedure Hurdles In The Quest For Justice, Suzette M. Malveaux

Publications

No abstract provided.


The Decision To Award Punitive Damages: An Empirical Study, Theodore Eisenberg, Michael Heise, Nicole L. Waters, Martin T. Wells Oct 2010

The Decision To Award Punitive Damages: An Empirical Study, Theodore Eisenberg, Michael Heise, Nicole L. Waters, Martin T. Wells

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

Empirical studies have consistently shown that punitive damages are rarely awarded, with rates of about 3 to 5 percent of plaintiff trial wins. Using the 2005 data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics Civil Justice Survey, this article shows that knowing in which cases plaintiffs sought punitive damages transforms the picture of punitive damages. Not accounting for whether punitive damages were sought obscures the meaningful punitive damages rate, the rate of awards in cases in which they were sought, by a factor of nearly 10, and obfuscates a more explicable pattern of awards than has been reported. Punitive damages were …


Epstein's Razor, David G. Owen Oct 2010

Epstein's Razor, David G. Owen

Faculty Publications

Richard Epstein, over a long and distinguished career, has offered inspired insights into how a legal system should be framed to serve the goals of those it governs. In that pursuit, he has relentlessly applied a sharp logic - call it Epstein's Razor - to shave away the detritus of complexity and confusion that surround perplexing problems, leaving standing only truths unscathed by competition among ideas. Over decades of diverse writings on law and political theory, highlighted by his elegant Simple Rules for a Complex World, Professor Epstein offers a vision of law constructed on the view that simplicity in …


Taxing Punitive Damages, Gregg D. Polsky, Dan Markel Sep 2010

Taxing Punitive Damages, Gregg D. Polsky, Dan Markel

Scholarly Works

There is a curious anomaly in the law of punitive damages. Jurors assess punitive damages in the amount that they believe will best “punish” the defendant. But, in fact, defendants are not always punished to the degree that the jury intends. Under the Internal Revenue Code, punitive damages paid by business defendants are tax deductible and, as a result, these defendants often pay (in real dollars) far less than the jury believes they deserve to pay.

To solve this problem of under-punishment, many scholars and policymakers, including President Obama, have proposed making punitive damages nondeductible in all cases. In our …


Punitive Damages In Securities Arbitration: An Empirical Study, Stephen Choi, Theodore Eisenberg Jun 2010

Punitive Damages In Securities Arbitration: An Empirical Study, Stephen Choi, Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell Law Faculty Publications

This article provides the first empirical analysis of punitive damages in securities arbitrations. Using a data set of over 6,800 securities arbitration awards, we find that claimants prevailed in 48.9 percent of arbitrations and that 9.1 percent of those claimant victories included a punitive damages award. The existence of a punitive damages award was associated with claims that suggested egregious misbehavior and with claims that provided higher compensatory awards. The pattern of punitive awards is more consistent with a traditional view of punitive damages that incorporates a retributive component than with a law and economics emphasis on efficient deterrence. We …


Aggravating Punitive Damages, David G. Owen Feb 2010

Aggravating Punitive Damages, David G. Owen

Faculty Publications

No abstract provided.


Penalizing Punitive Damages: Why The Supreme Court Needs A Lesson In Law And Economics, Steve P. Calandrillo Jan 2010

Penalizing Punitive Damages: Why The Supreme Court Needs A Lesson In Law And Economics, Steve P. Calandrillo

Articles

The recent landmark Supreme Court decision addressing punitive damages in the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill case has brought the issue of punitive awards back into the legal limelight. Modern Supreme Court jurisprudence, most notably BMW of North America, Inc. [517 U.S. 559 (1996)], State Farm [538 U.S. 408 (2003)], Philip Morris [549 U.S. 346 (2007)], and now Exxon Shipping Co. [128 S.Ct. 2605 (2008)] in 2008, has concluded that such judgments are justified to punish morally reprehensible behavior and to send a message to evildoers. The Court, however, has increasingly emphasized that the U.S. Constitution's Due Process Clause presumptively …


American Punitive Damages Vs. Compensatory Damages In Promoting Enforcement In Democratic Nations Of Civil Judgments To Deter State-Sponsors Of Terrorism, Jeffrey F. Addicott Jan 2010

American Punitive Damages Vs. Compensatory Damages In Promoting Enforcement In Democratic Nations Of Civil Judgments To Deter State-Sponsors Of Terrorism, Jeffrey F. Addicott

Faculty Articles

The primary consequence of the attacks on 9/11 on the U.S. was a fundamental legal shift in the approach that the U.S. has taken when confronting terrorism and the States that support them. The new challenge of the post 9/11 approach focused on ways to effectively combat not only terrorist organizations but also the States that sponsor them. This new thinking demands that Western democracies adopt an internationally based functional legal methodology that can deter rogue States from sponsoring terrorism.

Civil litigation against States that sponsor or support terrorism is a potential legal tool which could be used with great …


Class Dismissed: Contemporary Judicial Hostility To Small-Claims Consumer Class Actions, Myriam E. Gilles Jan 2010

Class Dismissed: Contemporary Judicial Hostility To Small-Claims Consumer Class Actions, Myriam E. Gilles

Articles

I start from the view that small-value consumer claims are a primary reason that class actions exist, and that without class actions many - if not most - of the wrongs perpetrated upon small-claims consumers would not be capable of redress. It would then seem to follow that the class action device should be readily available in small-claims consumer cases. And yet, over the past decade, federal district courts have repeatedly declined to certify class actions on grounds that are specific to small-claims consumer cases. Foremost among those grounds is the notion that the federal class action rule carries within …


The New Calculus Of Punitive Damages For Employment Discrimination Cases, Sandra F. Sperino Jan 2010

The New Calculus Of Punitive Damages For Employment Discrimination Cases, Sandra F. Sperino

Faculty Articles and Other Publications

To determine whether a punitive damages award is constitutionally excessive, courts are required, among other things, to consider the ratio of compensatory to punitive damages. No longer is the total sum of remedies the only relevant calculation in determining whether an award is excessive. The numbers the judge decides to use in the ratio comparison also become important, in many cases determining whether excessiveness review is even warranted.

Owing in part to the complexities of the employment discrimination remedies regime, courts make numerous errors when undertaking the required comparison in the employment discrimination context. When conducting the excessiveness calculus, some …


Saving Lives Through Punitive Damages, Joni Hersch, W. Kip Viscusi Jan 2010

Saving Lives Through Punitive Damages, Joni Hersch, W. Kip Viscusi

Vanderbilt Law School Faculty Publications

This Article proposes that the value of statistical life ("VSL ") be used to set the total damages amount needed for deterrence when punitive damages are warranted in wrongful death cases. The appropriate level of total damages should be achieved by adjusting the value of punitive damages. Compensatory damages should not be distorted to establish the total damages level needed for efficient deterrence. Attempts to introduce hedonic damages as a compensatory damages component, and proposals to use the VSL on a routine basis when setting compensatory damages awards, are misguided and will undermine the insurance and compensation functions of compensatory …