Document Type


Publication Date



Securities arbitrations, Punitive damages, Punitive awards, Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, Mastrobuono v. Shearson Lehman Hutton, Inc., Punitive damages and deterrence, Punitive damages in court-based litigation, Punitive and compensatory damages, Empirical legal studies


Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Legal Remedies | Securities Law


This article provides the first empirical analysis of punitive damages in securities arbitrations. Using a data set of over 6,800 securities arbitration awards, we find that claimants prevailed in 48.9 percent of arbitrations and that 9.1 percent of those claimant victories included a punitive damages award. The existence of a punitive damages award was associated with claims that suggested egregious misbehavior and with claims that provided higher compensatory awards. The pattern of punitive awards is more consistent with a traditional view of punitive damages that incorporates a retributive component than with a law and economics emphasis on efficient deterrence. We also report evidence that the relation between punitive and compensatory awards did not differ substantially between the securities arbitrators’ data and data on juries available from periodic Civil Justice Surveys by the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Publication Citation

Published in: Journal of Legal Studies, vol. 39, no. 2 (June 2010).