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Punitive Damages: How Judges and Juries Perform


  • Joni Hersch
  • W. Kip Viscusi


Civil Justice Survey of State Courts, 1996, we find that juries are significantly more likely to award punitive damages than are judges and award higher levels of punitive damages. Jury awards are also less strongly related to compensatory damages. The differential effect of juries is most pronounced among the largest awards. Juries also tend to award higher levels of compensatory damages, which in turn boost the punitive damages award. The findings are robust with respect to controlling for self-selection of jury or bench trial.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucp:jlstud:v:33:y:2004:p:1-36 DOI: 10.1086/380412

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gary S. Becker, 1974. "Crime and Punishment: An Economic Approach," NBER Chapters,in: Essays in the Economics of Crime and Punishment, pages 1-54 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Helland, Eric & Tabarrok, Alexander T, 2000. "Runaway Judges? Selection Effects and the Jury," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 16(2), pages 306-333, October.
    3. George L. Priest & Benjamin Klein, 1984. "The Selection of Disputes for Litigation," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(1), pages 1-56, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Eric Helland & Alexander Taberrok, "undated". "Runaway Judges? Selection Effects and the Jury," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2000-10, Claremont Colleges.
    6. Eisenberg, Theodore, et al, 1997. "The Predictability of Punitive Damages," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(2), pages 623-661, June.
    7. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Patricia Born & W. Kip Viscusi & Tom Baker, 2009. "The Effects of Tort Reform on Medical Malpractice Insurers' Ultimate Losses," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 76(1), pages 197-219.
    2. Michael Heise, 2013. "Empirical Analysis of Civil Litigation: Torts Trials in State Courts," Chapters,in: Research Handbook on the Economics of Torts, chapter 1, pages 11-30 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Thomas J. Miceli & Michael P. Stone, 2013. "The Determinants Of State-Level Caps On Punitive Damages: Theory And Evidence," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 31(1), pages 110-125, January.
    4. 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.
    5. Joanna Lahey, 2008. "State Age Protection Laws and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 51(3), pages 433-460, August.
    6. Joanna Lahey, 2006. "How Do Age Discrimination Laws Affect Older Workers?," Work Opportunity Briefs wob_5, Center for Retirement Research, revised Oct 2006.
    7. 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.
    8. Joni Hersch, 2006. "Demand for a Jury Trial and the Selection of Cases for Trial," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 35(1), pages 119-142, January.
    9. Eric Helland & Jonathan Klick & Alexander Tabarrok, 2005. "Data Watch: Tort-uring the Data," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 207-220, Spring.
    10. Stephen J. Choi & Theodore Eisenberg, 2010. "Punitive Damages in Securities Arbitration: An Empirical Study," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 39(2), pages 497-546.

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