IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

On the Determinants and Importance of Punitive Damage Awards

  • Karpoff, Jonathan M
  • Lott, John R, Jr

We examine several theoretical and empirical issues concerning punitive damage awards and their importance to business. First, we argue that previous justifications of punitive damage awards ignore the role of private contracting and reputation in assuring contractual performance. In the absence of externalities, punitive awards are not necessary to assure contractual performance even when firms face less than a 100 percent probability of being sued for contractual breach. Next, we examine empirically the sizes, determinants, and valuation impacts of punitive awards assessed against publicly held companies. We find that settlement amounts are low compared to jury awards, and punitive awards are highly variable and difficult to explain using characteristics of the lawsuit or defendant company. Supreme Court and legislative actions affecting punitive awards generally have not had systematic impacts on firm values. Specific punitive lawsuits, however, decrease the values of defendant companies by amounts that exceed settlement or jury verdict amounts, indicating that punitive lawsuits impose reputational costs on defendants. Copyright 1999 by the University of Chicago.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/467434
Download Restriction: Access to the online full text or PDF requires a subscription.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by University of Chicago Press in its journal Journal of Law & Economics.

Volume (Year): 42 (1999)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 527-73

as
in new window

Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:42:y:1999:i:1:p:527-73
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.journals.uchicago.edu/JLE/

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Kahneman, Daniel & Schkade, David & Sunstein, Cass R, 1998. "Shared Outrage and Erratic Awards: The Psychology of Punitive Damages," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 16(1), pages 49-86, April.
  2. Darby, Michael R & Karni, Edi, 1973. "Free Competition and the Optimal Amount of Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 16(1), pages 67-88, April.
  3. Craswell, Richard, 1996. "Damage Multipliers in Market Relationships," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 25(2), pages 463-92, June.
  4. Karpoff, Jonathan M & Lott, John R, Jr, 1993. "The Reputational Penalty Firms Bear from Committing Criminal Fraud," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(2), pages 757-802, October.
  5. Klein, Benjamin, 1996. "Why Hold-Ups Occur: The Self-Enforcing Range of Contractual Relationships," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 34(3), pages 444-63, July.
  6. Polinsky, A Mitchell, 1997. "Are Punitive Damages Really Insignificant, Predictable, and Rational? A Comment on Eisenberg et al," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 663-77, June.
  7. Jonathan M. Karpoff & D. Scott Lee & Valaria P. Vendrzyk, 1999. "Defense Procurement Fraud, Penalties, and Contractor Influence," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(4), pages 809-842, August.
  8. Mikkelson, Wayne H. & Partch, M. Megan, 1988. "Withdrawn Security Offerings," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 23(02), pages 119-133, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:ucp:jlawec:v:42:y:1999:i:1:p:527-73. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Journals Division)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.