Punitive damage decision making: The decisions of citizens and trial court judges

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Some states have allocated the authority to determine the amount of punitive damages to judges rather than to juries. This study explored the determination of damages by jury-eligible citizens and trial court judges. The punitive damage awards of both groups were of similar magnitude and variability. The compensatory damages of jurors were marginally lower but, in some conditions, were more variable than the compensatory damage awards of judges. Both groups appropriately utilized information about both the actual and potential severity of the harm to the plaintiff in determining punitive damages and used only the actual severity of the injury in determining compensatory damages. The punitive damage awards of both groups were influenced by the wealth of the defendant, but the compensatory damage awards of judges were marginally more influenced by defendant wealth than those of citizens. The results are discussed in the context of proposals for punitive damages reform.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-341
Number of pages27
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Volume26
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2002
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Damage awards
  • Judges
  • Juror decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law

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