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Are Punitive Damages Really Insignificant, Predictable, and Rational? A Comment on Eisenberg et al

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  • Polinsky, A Mitchell

Abstract

This comment on an empirical study of punitive damages by Theodore Eisenberg and several coauthors makes three main points. First, contrary to what they imply, Punitive damages may be a significant factor in litigation despite the fact that only a small fraction of cases in their sample involve punitive damage judgments. Second, notwithstanding their interpretation, their results are consistent with the possibility that punitive damages are awarded on a random basis. Third, in opposition to their suggestion, punitive damages may not be rational even if the level of punitive damages is systematically and positively related to the level of compensatory damages. Copyright 1997 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • 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 663-677, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:26:y:1997:i:2:p:663-77
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/468011
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    Cited by:

    1. Joni Hersch & W. Kip Viscusi, 2004. "Punitive Damages: How Judges and Juries Perform," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(1), pages 1-36, January.
    2. Thomas A. Eaton & David B. Mustard & Susette M. Talarico, 2005. "The Effects of Seeking Punitive Damages on the Processing of Tort Claims," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(2), pages 343-369, June.
    3. Toshiaki Iizuka, 2013. "Does Higher Malpractice Pressure Deter Medical Errors?," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 56(1), pages 161-188.
    4. Andrew F. Daughety & Jennifer F. Reinganum, 2003. "Found Money? Split-Award Statutes and Settlement of Punitive Damages Cases," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 5(1), pages 134-164.
    5. Alison F. Del Rossi & W. Kip Viscusi, 2009. "The Changing Landscape of Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 116-161.
    6. Karpoff, Jonathan M & Lott, John R, Jr, 1999. "On the Determinants and Importance of Punitive Damage Awards," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(1), pages 527-573, April.
    7. Thomas A. Eaton & David B. Mustard & Susette M. Talarico, 2005. "Punitive Damages and the Processing of Tort Claims," Law and Economics 0501002, EconWPA.

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