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Civil jury awards, Civil juries, Jury decision making, Jury deliberations, Jury damage awards


Civil Procedure | Courts | Insurance Law | Legal Remedies | Litigation | Torts


Jury awards are often criticized as being arbitrary and excessive. This paper speaks to that controversy, reporting data from interviews with civil jurors' accounts of the strategies that juries use and the factors that they consider in arriving at a collective award. Jurors reported difficulty in deciding on awards, describing it as "the hardest part" of jury service and were surprised the court did not provide more guidance to them. Relatively few jurors entered the jury deliberation room with a specified award figure in mind. Once in the deliberation room, however, they reported discussing a variety of relevant factors such as the seriousness of the injury, the plaintiff's age, and occasionally even more esoteric items such as the impact of inflation. Two frequent topics of discussion, attorneys' fees and insurance, suggest that jurors attempt to estimate the actual impact of an award on both the defendant and plaintiff. This descriptive account may help to inform the debate about whether jurors require additional guidance or information in the award process.

Publication Citation

Published in: Law and Human Behavior, vol. 24, no. 4 (August 2000).