Punitive damages 'crisis' is a myth, scholars say.Claims that out-of-control juries regularly hand out huge and unmerited punitive damages Monetary compensation awarded to an injured party that goes beyond that which is necessary to compensate the individual for losses and that is intended to punish the wrongdoer. awards are untrue, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. scholars meeting at a recent national conference at the University of Wisconsin Law School Facilities
The law school is situated on Bascom Hill, the center of the UW-Madison campus. In 1996, the law school completed a major renovation project that joined two previous buildings and created a four-story glass atrium. .
Researchers presenting papers at the October conference generally agreed that punitive damages awards in products liability and personal injury cases are rare and closely related to compensatory damages A sum of money awarded in a civil action by a court to indemnify a person for the particular loss, detriment, or injury suffered as a result of the unlawful conduct of another. . The only noticeable increase in the size and number of these awards has occurred in business contract litigation An action brought in court to enforce a particular right. The act or process of bringing a lawsuit in and of itself; a judicial contest; any dispute.
When a person begins a civil lawsuit, the person enters into a process called litigation. , where economic losses have resulted from fraud or deceit.
"Tort horror stories horror story
Story intended to elicit a strong feeling of fear. Such tales are of ancient origin and form a substantial part of folk literature. They may feature supernatural elements such as ghosts, witches, or vampires or address more realistic psychological fears. and incomplete data create the [false] appearance of a punitive damages crisis," said Suffolk University During the 1990s Suffolk University constructed its first residence halls, began satellite programs with other colleges in Massachusetts, and opened campuses in both Madrid, Spain, and Dakar, Senegal, (the Suffolk University Dakar Campus). law professor Michael Rustad, who presented his survey of nine punitive damages studies at the conference. Rustad said the studies consistently found that punitive awards are rare and vary appropriately depending on the conduct of the defendant.
Participants at the National Conference on the Future of Punitive Damages included prominent scholars in the field, plaintiffs, and defense lawyers, and representatives of the insurance Industry. Some "tort reform" advocates decided not to attend at the last minute at the urging of Aetna Life & Casualty, which had originally supported the conference.
Research presented at the meeting bolstered Rustad's conclusion that the punitive damages "crisis" is a myth:
* Theodore Eisenberg, a professor at Cornell Law School The Cornell Law School was formally opened in 1887, but was moved to its present-day location at Myron Taylor Hall in 1937. The law school building, an ornate, Gothic structure, was the result of a donation by Myron Charles Taylor, a former CEO of US Steel, and a member of the Cornell , determined how many punitive awards compiled in two databases would have to be reduced under the most commonly proposed punitive damages cap -- $300,000 or three times compensatory damages, whichever is greater. One database, compiled from state courts, included awards in the 45 largest urban counties in 1991 and 1992. The other, compiled by the Rand Institute for Civil Justice, included awards in California and Cook County, Illinois Cook County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. As of 2000, the population was 5,376,741, making it the second largest county by population in the United States (after Los Angeles County, California), and accounting for 43. , over the past 25 years.
Of the 173 punitive damages awards from the urban counties in 1991 and 1992, only 10 exceeded the cap, and these came close to the line. Only four or five cases in Cook County in the 25-year sample exceeded the cap. The California sample produced similar results except in the middle range of compensatory awards, where more punitive awards exceeded the cap. Even so, Eisenberg said none of the awards was "off the charts."
He said the findings suggest that jurors across the board "are employing roughly the same mechanism to govern the relationship between compensatory and punitive awards."
* Steven Garber of the Rand Institute for Civil Justice reported that business fears about large punitive awards are fed by media coverage of these verdicts. Newspapers cover plaintiffs' victories in punitive damages cases nearly 20 times more often than defendants, wins, according to Garber's study. He added that newspapers also rarely report instances where punitive awards are reduced.
Stephen Daniels and Joanne Martin of the American Bar Foundation Established in 1952, the American Bar Foundation (ABF) is an independent, nonprofit national research institute located in Chicago, Illinois committed to objective empirical research on law and legal institutions. studied the political aspects of the punitive damages debate, asserting that business has an interest in characterizing jury behavior as a new crisis in the civil justice system.
"Given the lack of empirical verification," they wrote in their paper, "the reformers' claims about change are perhaps best seen as a part of the political effort by interested parties to get favored `solutions' on the public policy agenda. These claims, at best, have only a tenuous connection to what has actually been happening with punitive damage awards."
Former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh Richard L. "Dick" Thornburgh (born July 16, 1932) is a lawyer and Republican politician who served as the Governor of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1987, and then as the U.S. Attorney General from 1988 to 1991. withdrew from the conference but sent his paper, which asserted that jury awards of punitive damages have "run wild."
Thornburgh advocated the adoption of a uniform national standard to hold these awards in check.
Another well-known tort "reformer," Yale law professor George Priest, submitted a paper on his study of punitive damages in three Alabama counties.
Priest acknowledged that the results were preliminary but said the study seemed to indicate that the Alabama counties may be unique in the frequency, and size of punitive awards. He said these results may be related to the way judges and juries in Alabama treat out-of-state defendants.
The conference was cosponsored by the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin Law School and the ABA Aba (ä`bä), city (1991 est. pop. 264,000), SE Nigeria. It is an important regional market, a road and rail hub, and a manufacturing center for cement, textiles, pharmaceuticals, processed palm oil, shoes, plastics, soap, and beer. Tort and Insurance Practice Section. Papers from the conference arc expected to be published as a law review symposium.