After Philip Morris v. Williams: What is Left of the 'Single-Digit' Ratio?
Anthony J. Sebok
Yeshiva University - Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
Charleston Law Review, Vol. 2, p. 287, 2008
Cardozo Legal Studies Research Paper No. 237
This short essay was written for a symposium on The Future of Punitive Damages held at the Charleston School of Law in 2007. I argue that the ratio rule (that punitive damages that exceed a single digit ratio presumptively violate the Due Process Clause), introduced by the Supreme Court in Campbell, is unlikely to survive. I argue this for three reasons. First, many lower courts have found ways to conceal punitive damages awards that impose, in reality, ratios in the double-digits. Second, the refusal of the Court to reverse the plaintiffs punitive damages award in Williams under the ratio rule - given that it was 98 times the compensatory award - suggests that there are members of the Court who may not want to stand behind the rule. Third, the rule represents a mistaken critique of punitive damages.
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Date posted: May 9, 2008 ; Last revised: September 27, 2008