What Should Be Done?

Cass R. Sunstein

in Punitive Damages

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print April 2002 | ISBN: 9780226780146
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226780160 | DOI:
What Should Be Done?

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Even in the face of several findings, the question of punitive damages reform is not easy to answer in the abstract, above all because people disagree about the purpose of punitive damages awards. If the purpose of such awards is retribution—to impose a certain level of suffering on a defendant—the analysis would be different than if the purpose of such awards is to deter (optimally) future misconduct. Jury instructions typically run the two goals together; but it has been observed that the goal of retribution does not march hand in hand with the goal of deterrence. For the moment, the key point is that many people, including many lawyers and judges, are unsure about economic analysis of the deterrence issue, and any reform proposal that builds on economics will be controversial. But whatever one's views about the purpose of punitive damages awards, juries face extremely serious problems in producing sensible and coherent outcomes.

Keywords: punitive damages; retribution; juries; deterrence; economic analysis; damages awards

Chapter.  6923 words. 

Subjects: Company and Commercial Law

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