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BMW v. Gore, BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, Compensatory damages awards, Punitive damages awards, Empirical legal studies, Relation between compensatory and punitive damages awards


Applied Statistics | Civil Procedure | Legal Remedies | Litigation


This article assesses the relation between compensatory damages and punitive damages in cases leading to published opinions and BMW v. Gore's impact on the patterns of punitive damages awards in these opinions. We find that punitive damages awards are considerably higher in cases leading to published opinions than in trial level cases. But the correlation between compensatory and punitive awards found in trial level data persists in published opinions and is all but indistinguishable from the correlation in trial level data. We find no significant difference in the pattern of awards before and after BMW and no significant difference in the rate at which courts order a reduction in punitive damages awards. We also find that the mass of trial level awards provides a powerful tool for predicting the outcome of judicial review of punitive damages awards.

Publication Citation

Published in: Supreme Court Economic Review, vol. 7 (1999).