Document Type

Article

Publication Date

6-2002

Keywords

Predictably Incoherent Judgments, PIJ, Punitive damages awards, Empirical legal studies

Disciplines

Applied Statistics | Civil Procedure | Law and Society | Remedies

Abstract

Experimental evidence generated in controlled laboratory studies suggests that the legal system in general, and punitive damages awards in particular, should display an incoherent pattern. According to the prediction, inexperienced decisionmakers, such as juries, should fail to convert their qualitative judgments of defendants' conduct into consistent, meaningful dollar amounts. This Article tests this prediction and finds modest support for the thesis that experience across different types of cases will lead to greater consistency in awards. Despite this support, numerous studies of damage awards in real cases detect a generally sensible pattern of damage awards. This Article tries to reconcile the largely coherent pattern of real-world results with the experimental findings and suggests that careful attention to sources of coherence and incoherence can help reconcile experimental and real-world results.

Publication Citation

Published in: Stanford Law Review, vol. 54, issue 6 (June 2002).