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Punitive damages, Compensatory awards, Punitive awards in judge trials and jury trials, Empirical legal studies, Judge and jury trial outcomes, Judge-jury differences, Punitive and compensatory damages awards, Selection effect


Applied Statistics | Civil Procedure | Legal Remedies | Litigation


This Article, the first broad-based analysis of punitive damages in judge-tried cases, compares judge and jury performance in awarding punitive damages and in setting their levels. Data covering one year of judge and jury trial outcomes from forty-five of the nation's largest counties yield no substantial evidence that judges and juries differ in the rate at which they award punitive damages or in the central relation between the size of punitive awards and compensatory awards. The relation between punitive and compensatory awards in jury trials is strikingly similar to the relation in judge trials. For a given level of compensatory award, there is a greater range of punitive awards in jury trials than in judge trials. The greater spread, however, produces trivially few jury awards that are beyond the range of what judges might award in similar cases.

Publication Citation

Published in: Cornell Law Review, vol. 87, no. 3 (March 2002).