Punitive Damages in Securities Arbitration: An Empirical Study
This article provides the first empirical analysis of punitive damages in securities arbitrations. Using a data set of over 6,800 securities arbitration awards, we find that claimants prevailed in 48.9 percent of arbitrations and that 9.1 percent of those claimant victories included a punitive damages award. The existence of a punitive damages award was associated with claims that suggested egregious misbehavior and with claims that provided higher compensatory awards. The pattern of punitive awards is more consistent with a traditional view of punitive damages that incorporates a retributive component than with a law and economics emphasis on efficient deterrence. We also report evidence that the relation between punitive and compensatory awards did not differ substantially between the securities arbitrators’ data and data on juries available from periodic Civil Justice Surveys by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.
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