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Punitive Damages in the United States

  • Anthony J. Sebok
Part of the Tort and Insurance Law book series (TIL, volume 25)

Abstract

According to black letter doctrine, punitive damages “are damages, other than compensatory or nominal damages, awarded against a person to punish him for his outrageous conduct and to deter him and others like him from similar conduct in the future.”1 A jury (or judge, under some circumstances) may, in its discretion, render punitive damages in cases in which the defendant is found to have injured the plaintiff intentionally or maliciously, or in which the defendant’s conduct reflected a conscious, reckless, wilful, wanton, or oppressive disregard of the rights or interests of the plaintiff. No state allows punitive damages on a showing of simple or mere negligence. Punitive damages may be assessed against an employer vicariously for the misconduct of its employees, although some states restrict such awards to instances where a managing officer of the enterprise ordered, participated in or consented to the misconduct. The amount of a punitive damages award is determined by the jury upon consideration of the seriousness of the wrong, the seriousness of the plaintiff’s injury, and the extent of the defendant’s wealth.

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Literatur

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag / Wien 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony J. Sebok
    • 1
  1. 1.Benjamin N. Cardozo, School of LawYeshiva UniversityNew YorkUSA

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