NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Changing Landscape of Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards

Alison F. Del Rossi, W. Kip Viscusi

NBER Working Paper No. 15571
Issued in December 2009
NBER Program(s):   LE

This article investigates the determinants of the blockbuster punitive damages awards of at least $100 million. As of the end of 2008, there had been 100 such awards with an average value of $3.0 billion. The U.S. Supreme Court decision in State Farm v. Campbell suggested a single digit upper bound on the punitive damages/compensatory damages ratio, which reduced the annual number of blockbuster awards, the total annual value of blockbuster awards, and the punitive damages/compensatory damages ratio. Applying the 1:1 ratio from Exxon Shipping Co. et al. v. Baker et al. broadly would eliminate most of the blockbuster awards.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w15571

Published: W. Kip Viscusi, 2009. "The Changing Landscape of Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards," American Law and Economics Review, Oxford University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 116-161. citation courtesy of

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