Punitive Damages, Social Norms, and Economic Analysis
Robert D. Cooter
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law
Courts express anger and indignation through speech and punishment. Expressions of emotion signal commitment and coordinate expectations in a game with multiple equilibria. Current law relies upon juries using social norms to determine the incidence and extent of punitive damages. Social norms provide a better guide to the need for punitive damages than to their extent. Juries require precise instructions to award consistent punitive damages. The court in a typical case should impose the minimum punishment required to deter wrongdoing. The goal of deterrence can calibrate punishments precisely for some kinds of wrongs but not others.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 39working papers series
Date posted: September 13, 1998
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