Punitive damages rare, independent study shows.A government-funded report using independently collected data appears to confirm what "tort reform" opponents have argued for a long time: 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. are rarely awarded in products liability cases or medical negligence cases. When they are awarded, the sums correlate to the amount of 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 study by two Cornell University Cornell University, mainly at Ithaca, N.Y.; with land-grant, state, and private support; coeducational; chartered 1865, opened 1868. It was named for Ezra Cornell, who donated $500,000 and a tract of land. With the help of state senator Andrew D. professors and the National Center for State Courts The National Center for State Courts, or NCSC, is a non-profit organization charged with improving judicial administration in the United States and around the world. It functions as a think-tank, library, non-profit consulting firm for the courts, advocate for judicial and comes on the heels of a contentious onslaught of legislative "tort reform" initiatives in recent years. The study also coincides with the release of a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision that, for the first time, rejected a punitive damages award as being "grossly excessive." In BMW v The BMW V was a water-cooled V-12 aircraft engine built in Germany in the 1920s. Effectively two BMW III engines sharing a common crankshaft, power was in the 270 kW - 310 kW (360 hp - 420 hp) range. Specifications
The authors of the Cornell study conclude that public commotion over punitive damages awards is simply that-a lot of noise.
"Some of the gravest concerns about punitive damages, their unpredictability, and lack of relationship to compensatory damages, are less warranted than is commonly believed," the authors write. (Theodore Eisenberg et al., The Predictability of Punitive Damages, presented at the University of Chicago Law School The University of Chicago Law School, having recently celebrated its centennial in the 2002-2003 school year, has established itself as a high profile part of the University of Chicago. , June 13-14,1996.)
"Products liability and medical malpractice Improper, unskilled, or negligent treatment of a patient by a physician, dentist, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care professional. are among the least likely classes of cases to result in punitive damages awards," the authors write. Business cases are the most likely to involve punitive damages.
"The study shows that the jury system in America is working," said ATLA ATLA Association of Trial Lawyers of America
ATLA American Theological Library Association
ATLA American Trial Lawyers Association
ATLA Air Transport Licensing Authority (Hong Kong)
ATLA Avatar: The Last Airbender President Howard Twiggs. "Business lobbyists and the insurance industry have no justification, other than corporate greed, for continuing to push measures in Congress and state legislatures that would restrict the role of jurors in making punitive damages awards."
The authors roundly dismiss critics' contentions that punitive damages awards have gotten out of hand-especially in relation to the amount of compensatory damages awarded.
Although their research shows that the $2 million award in the Gore case was "off the charts," the authors say punitive awards are imposed in fewer than 10 percent of all jury trials in which plaintiffs prevail.
The Cornell study shows that where compensatory damages were $10,000, punitive damages averaged $10,860; where compensatory damages were $100,000, punitive damages averaged $65,720; and where compensatory damages were $1 million, punitive damages averaged $397,810.
The argument that punitive damages awards "are randomly plucked out of the air and bear no relation to compensatory damages, can be firmly rejected," the study says.
Publicity over high punitive awards appears to flow logically from the media's desire to print "man bites dog" stories. "The punitive damages cases emphasized in the media are newsworthy precisely because they are so rare," the authors write.
The study was funded by a grant from the U.S. Justice Department. Data were collected by the National Center for State Courts. The center examined the results of 6,000 state court trials that occurred between July 1991 and June 1992 in 45 of the most populous U.S. counties.
The study says punitive damages are awarded in 6 percent of cases nationally. A breakdown of statistics, however, shows that San Francisco San Francisco (săn frănsĭs`kō), city (1990 pop. 723,959), coextensive with San Francisco co., W Calif., on the tip of a peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay, which are connected by the strait known as the Golden jurors awarded punitives in 26.6 percent of their cases. In Fulton County, which includes Atlanta, jurors awarded punitives 25.8 percent of the time, and 22.5 percent of the time in Dallas County, Texas Dallas County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas within the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area (colloquially referred to as the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex). As of the 2000 U.S. Census, the county had a population of 2. .
Interestingly, "tort reform" proponents claim that the largest punitive damages awards come from rural, not urban, areas.