The Predictability of Punitive Damages Awards in Published Opinions, the Impact of BMW v. Gore on Punitive Damages Awards, and Forecasting Which Punitive Awards Will Be Reduced
Cornell University - Law School
Martin T. Wells
Cornell University - School of Law
Supreme Court Economic Review, Vol. 7, 1999
This article assesses the relation between compensatory damages and punitive damages in cases leading to published opinions and BMW v. Gore's impact on the patterns of punitive damages awards in these opinions. We find that punitive damages awards are considerably higher in cases leading to published opinions than in trial level cases. But the correlation between compensatory and punitive awards found in trial level data persists in published opinions and is all but indistinguishable from the correlation in trial level data. We find no significant difference in the pattern of awards before and after BMW and no significant difference in the rate at which courts order a reduction in punitive damages awards. We also find that the mass of trial level awards provides a powerful tool for predicting the outcome of judicial review of punitive damages awards.
Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: August 26, 1999
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