Obstacles to Determining Punitive Damages in Class Actions
54 Pages Posted: 26 May 2011
Date Written: May 23, 2011
Courts and commentators have often embraced the class action device as an ideal means of assessing punitive damages fairly in mass tort cases. In this Article, Professor Hines sounds a cautionary note by identifying a number of procedural and substantive obstacles that may thwart effective class treatment of punitive damages. For example, punitive damages claims often will not raise questions common to the class because of differing state standards for awarding and assessing the amount of punitive damages. In addition, state punitive damages claims often will not raise questions common to the class because of differing state standards for awarding and assessing the amount of punitive damages laws recent Supreme Court due process jurisprudence preclude imposition of class punitive damages prior to some assessment of harm to the class as a whole. In light of these concerns, this Article urges courts to proceed cautiously before certifying class claims for punitive damages with careful regard for the dictates of Rule 23, state punitive damages laws, and the due process clause.
Keywords: courts, damages, class actions
JEL Classification: K19
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation