Judge-Jury Difference in Punitive Damages Awards: Who Listens to the Supreme Court?

33 Pages Posted: 20 May 2011

See all articles by Theodore Eisenberg

Theodore Eisenberg

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased)

Michael Heise

Cornell Law School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 2011

Abstract

We analyze thousands of trials from a substantial fraction of the nation's most populous counties as well as a smaller sample of less populous counties. Evidence from four major Civil Justice Survey data sets spanning more than a decade establishes that: (1) compensatory awards are strongly associated with punitive awards and (2) the punitive-compensatory relation has not materially changed over time. But (3) 2005 data suggest, for the first time, systematic differences between judges and juries in the punitive-compensatory relation. Despite claims that the Supreme Court's State Farm decision changed the punitive-compensatory relation, we present evidence that the 2005 shift is not attributable to the State Farm case or to other possibly relevant likely factors such as the relative flow of personal injury cases to judges and juries, inclusion of 110 small counties in the 2005 data, or changes in the 2005 data coding. The judge-jury difference more likely turns on unobserved factors driving the selection of cases for adjudication before judges and jurors.

Suggested Citation

Eisenberg, Theodore and Heise, Michael, Judge-Jury Difference in Punitive Damages Awards: Who Listens to the Supreme Court? (June 2011). Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Vol. 8, Issue 2, pp. 325-357, 2011, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1840236 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1740-1461.2011.01211.x

Theodore Eisenberg (Contact Author)

Cornell University, Law School (Deceased) ( email )

Myron Taylor Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States

Michael Heise

Cornell Law School ( email )

308 Myron Taylor Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853-4901
United States
607-255-0069 (Phone)
607-255-7193 (Fax)

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