Center for America

Speaker's Resource: 6. Punitive Damages, p 5

 

 

Punitive Damages Contents | Previous Page | Next Page

 

Key Reference Citations (KRC)

 

Three separate studies have concluded that punitive damages awards are increasing in frequency and size:

 

 

PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN CALIFORNIA*

In 1996, the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy published a study of the nature and extent of punitive damage awards in civil lawsuits in the California courts.

Summary

This paper analyzes 539 punitive damage jury awards of more than $100,000 statewide for the period of 1984-1994 as reported in Jury Verdicts Weekly. We made a closer analysis of 269 cases with jury awards from 1990-1994 that included punitive damages of any amount. Among the findings from analyzing these cases:

  1. Total punitive damages awarded, 1984-1994: Over $3 billion. The net amount of punitive damages actually levied following post-trial motions and appeals: $2.5 billion.

  2. The average punitive award grew from less than $1 million in 1984 to $6.6 million in 1994.

  3. The overwhelming majority of punitive damage awards during the 1990-1994 period were fully upheld by judges or on appeal. Contrary to claims that punitive damage awards are frequently reduced or vacated, our analysis found that more than nine out of ten punitive damage awards survived post-trial motions and appeals without being reduced.

  4. Within this limited database, the amount of punitive damages fluctuates widely, providing prima facie evidence that punitive damages are unpredictable and arbitrary. Further research, and a close comparison of similar types of cases, will be required to determine the extent to which punitive damage awards stem from irrational "runaway verdicts" from juries swayed by "passion and prejudice."

  5. These figures are conservative, and understate both the number of awards and the total amount of punitive damages levied.

Read the full summary from Pacific Research Institute

Read the 1996 report from Pacific Research Institute

 

* Nothing contained in this briefing is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

 

Punitive Damages Contents | Previous Page | Next Page

 

 

Please Note:  The material presented in this Speaker's Resource has been collected from a wide variety of sources.  You are welcome to use this material for quotations and factual material in your speeches, presentations and articles.  To the best of our ability, we have provided original citations so that you can document the comments you use.  If you become aware that any of the citations or facts presented in this collection are inaccurate or outdated by newer information, please send an email to Speakers@lawexec.com to tell us so that we can update this material.  The materials cited are generally copyrighted by the original author and when you quote from their material, you should include the original attribution to acknowledge their role as authors.  Original material 2005 American Justice Partnership.