Reducing Variability in Civil Jury Awards
Law & Human Behavior, Vol. 21, No. 243, 1997
Posted: 14 Dec 2010
Date Written: 1997
The purpose of the present empirical study was to test several procedures that could be adopted for reducing unwanted variability in civil damage awards. Four methods for providing guidance to jurors (and judges) about the distribution of awards in comparable cases were compared to each other, to a no-guidance control, and to the capping of awards at a specified maximum, which has been the most commonly legislated "solution." The guidance conditions involved providing mock jurors with one of four different types of information on awards for similar injuries in similar cases: the average award, the award values within which 80% of awards fell, both the average award and the award range, and four example awards. The findings of this study suggest several alternative solutions that are better able than caps to solve the problem of unwanted variability in awards.
Keywords: juror decision-making, jury instructions, damages
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