The Impact of Jury Instructions on the Fusion of Liability and Compensatory Damages

Law & Human Behavior, Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 125, 2001

Posted: 12 Dec 2010 Last revised: 16 Dec 2010

See all articles by Roselle Wissler

Roselle Wissler

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Michael J. Saks

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law

Katie Rector

University of Iowa - Department of Psychology

Date Written: 2001

Abstract

This empirical study examined whether special jury instructions or the bifurcation of liability and compensation decisions would counter the tendency for evidence concerning the defendant’s liability to affect damages awards. Mock jurors made liability and award decisions in response to a case description in which the level of defendant responsibility for the plaintiff’s injuries and the type or timing of damages instructions were systematically varied. Instructions not to discount awards for uncertainty about the defendant’s fault and instructions not to increase awards to punish the defendant’s carelessness reduced the impact of the defendant’s conduct on awards, while bifurcation did not. Additional findings suggest, at least in the context of the present study, that discounting may be a somewhat more potent process than surcharging. Possible explanations for these effects are discussed.

Keywords: juror decision making, jury instructions, damages

Suggested Citation

Wissler, Roselle and Saks, Michael J. and Rector, Katie, The Impact of Jury Instructions on the Fusion of Liability and Compensatory Damages (2001). Law & Human Behavior, Vol. 25, No. 2, p. 125, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1723358

Roselle Wissler (Contact Author)

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

Michael J. Saks

Arizona State University (ASU) - Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law ( email )

Box 877906
Tempe, AZ 85287-7906
United States

Katie Rector

University of Iowa - Department of Psychology

Iowa City, IA 52242
United States

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
983
PlumX Metrics