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Fashioning Procedural and Substantive Due Process Arguments in Toxic and Other Tort Actions Involving Punitive Damages after Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Haslip

49 Pages Posted: 25 Apr 2009  

James May

Widener University Delaware Law School

Date Written: January 1, 1992

Abstract

This article predicted that one of the most important issues in future tort litigation would be the role of the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment in constraining the imposition of punitive damages by state court juries. In Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Haslip, the Supreme Court found that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment limits, but does not prohibit, the imposition of punitive damages. The article argues that procedural due process would be protected by giving the jury adequate guidance on the nature and purpose of punitive damages, by using post-verdict judicial review to assure that the award is reasonable, and by applying the proper standard of proof. it also reasoned that substantive due process would be served by rendering an award of punitive damages neither excessive in degree (as compared with the award for compensatory damages) nor in frequency (as when a single course of tortious conduct results in the multiple imposition of punitive damages).

Keywords: torts, due process, punitive damages, damages

JEL Classification: K13

Suggested Citation

May, James, Fashioning Procedural and Substantive Due Process Arguments in Toxic and Other Tort Actions Involving Punitive Damages after Pacific Mutual Life Insurance Co. v. Haslip (January 1, 1992). Environmental Law, Vol. 22, 1992. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1394482

James May (Contact Author)

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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