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http://ssrn.com/abstract=297358
 
 

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Reconciling Experimental Incoherence with Real-World Coherence in Punitive Damages


Theodore Eisenberg


Cornell University - Law School

Jeffrey J. Rachlinski


Cornell Law School

Martin T. Wells


Cornell University - School of Law


Stanford Law Review, Forthcoming

Abstract:     
Experimental evidence generated in controlled laboratory studies suggests that the legal system in general, and punitive damages awards in particular, should display an incoherent pattern. According to the prediction, inexperienced decision makers, such as juries, should fail to convert their qualitative judgments of defendants' conduct into consistent, meaningful dollar amounts. This Article tests this prediction and finds modest support for the thesis that experience across different types of cases will lead to greater consistency in awards. Despite this support, numerous studies of damage awards in real cases detect a generally sensible pattern of damage awards. The article tries to reconcile the largely coherent pattern of real-world results with the experimental findings and suggests that careful attention to sources of coherence and incoherence can help reconcile experimental and real-world results.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 31

JEL Classification: K4

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Date posted: February 1, 2002  

Suggested Citation

Eisenberg, Theodore and Rachlinski , Jeffrey J. and Wells, Martin T., Reconciling Experimental Incoherence with Real-World Coherence in Punitive Damages. Stanford Law Review, Forthcoming. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=297358 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.297358

Contact Information

Theodore Eisenberg
Cornell University - Law School ( email )
524 College Ave
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-6477 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)
Jeffrey John Rachlinski (Contact Author)
Cornell Law School ( email )
524 College Ave
Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-5878 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)
Martin T. Wells
Cornell University - School of Law ( email )
Comstock Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-8801 (Phone)
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