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The Challenge of Punitive Damages Mathematics

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  • Viscusi, W Kip

Abstract

Proposals to provide juries with specific numerical instructions for setting punitive damages should bring greater rationality to punitive damages awards. This approach is tested using evidence from 353 jury-eligible citizens who applied these formulas to a series of legal cases. Few respondents assessed the correct values of punitive damages from the standpoint of deterrence. Anchoring effects of appeals by a plaintiff's lawyer or media coverage of similar awards lead respondents to abandon the punitive damages formula and set punitive damages based on the anchor. Minorities and the less well educated were particularly unwilling or unable to apply the recommended punitive damages formulas. Copyright 2001 by the University of Chicago.

Suggested Citation

  • Viscusi, W Kip, 2001. "The Challenge of Punitive Damages Mathematics," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 313-350, Part I Ju.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:30:y:2001:i:2:p:313-50
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/322059
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    1. Becker, Gary S, 1974. "A Theory of Social Interactions," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 82(6), pages 1063-1093, Nov.-Dec..
    2. Bulow, Jeremy I & Geanakoplos, John D & Klemperer, Paul D, 1985. "Multimarket Oligopoly: Strategic Substitutes and Complements," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 93(3), pages 488-511, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Florian Baumann & Tim Friehe, 2015. "Optimal Damages Multipliers in Oligopolistic Markets," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE), Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, vol. 171(4), pages 622-640, December.
    2. Bhole, Bharat & Wagner, Jeffrey, 2010. "Punitive damages and the recklessness requirement with uninformed injurers," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 253-264, September.
    3. Daniel P. Kessler & Daniel L. Rubinfeld, 2004. "Empirical Study of the Civil Justice System," NBER Working Papers 10825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Eric Helland & Alexander Tabarrok, 2003. "Race, Poverty, and American Tort Awards: Evidence from Three Data Sets," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, pages 27-58.
    5. 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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