What Does Punitive Damages Mean in a Lawsuit

Since one of the objectives of punitive damages is the greater social good of deterring misconduct, some States will participate in the award of punitive damages by the plaintiff. In these states, this happens by: In general, punitive damages go beyond detectable violations. As a general rule, they are granted only in cases initiated under tort law, such as. B, personal injury or medical malpractice, and not in cases initiated due to a contractual legal dispute. However, in some cases, punitive damages are awarded in case of bad faith resulting from an insurance policy. Indeed, in some cases, the insurer`s breach of contract is so illegal that it violates the implied obligation of good faith and fair trade, a crime. Punitive damages are awarded in an amount proportional to the realistic harm suffered by the plaintiff. If punitive damages are awarded in excessive amounts, most people in the legal community would consider it unconstitutional. In fact, there is a certain limit that cannot be exceeded when awarding punitive damages.

Damages are intended to compensate the plaintiff for losses related to his injuries. Compensation can further be divided into: special compensatory damages (to compensate for economic losses, such as . B medical expenses) and general compensatory damages (to compensate for non-economic losses such as pain and suffering). In Huckle v Money (KB 1763)95 Eng Rep 768, punitive damages were first awarded under English common law. The Huckle court ruled that the criminal sentences not only compensated the plaintiff for damages such as psychological suffering, injured dignity and hurt feelings, but also served to punish the defendant for gross misconduct. See also Wilkes v Wood (KB 1763) 98 Eng Rep 489, cited in Exemplary Damages in the Law of Torts, 70 Harv L Rev 517, 519 (1957) (`Exemplary Damages`). Soon after, U.S. courts also recognized punitive damages. In Genay v.

Norris (1784)1 SC 3, 1 Bay 6, the plaintiff was awarded punitive damages for the injuries he had sustained after drinking wine, which had been falsified by the defendant as a practical joke. In Day v Woodworth (1851) 54 US 363, 371, the U.S. Supreme Court stated that the doctrine of punitive damages had been supported by « repeated court decisions for more than a century. » A defendant who acted negligently is not sufficient to justify the award of punitive damages. For punitive damages to be awarded, the defendant must have acted maliciously, targeted, or a combination of both. In this case, many cases in which an accident has occurred are not eligible for punitive damages. The courts were very reluctant to follow this approach[11] and stressed the relative importance of the element of criminal law needed to account for these damages. In the event of tort, the courts may decide to apply punitive damages. However, they will usually only do so if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant committed an intentional offense and/or committed gratuitous and intentional misconduct. The United States Supreme Court, in BMW of North America v. Gore, 517 U.S.

519, 116 p. Ct. 1589, 134 L. Ed. 2d 809 (1996) also developed guidelines for the assessment of punitive damages. The court held that the « degree of representativeness of the defendant`s conduct » is the most important indication of the appropriateness of measuring punitive damages. The court also measured the possible proportionality of punitive damages by applying a relationship between the plaintiff`s damages and the amount of punitive damages. The customer is filing a civil lawsuit against the weight loss company to cover his medical expenses and lost wages, claiming that the company should have known that the supplements would respond with prescription drugs and should notify customers. The court rules in favor of the customer and awards both damages and punitive damages. In the Cheung case, the defendant was accused of fraudulently transferring real estate in order to evade the execution of a nuisance sentence imposed on him. The jury found that the plaintiff was entitled to $0 in damages. The jury also found that the defendant had acted in fraud, oppression or malice through the fraudulent transfers and awarded punitive damages.

On appeal, the court concluded that « Mother Cobb`s Chicken rule – that the award of exemplary damages must go hand in hand with damages – is still strong. This rule cannot be considered fulfilled if the jury has expressly decided not to award damages. 35. CA4. c. 1677. In Liebeck v. McDonald`s Restaurants (1994), Stella Liebeck, 79, spilled McDonald`s coffee on her lap, causing second- and third-degree burns to her thighs, buttocks, groin and genitals.

The burns were severe enough to require skin grafts. Liebeck tried to get McDonald`s to pay $20,000 in medical expenses to compensate for the incident. McDonald`s refused and Liebeck filed a lawsuit. During the process of discovering the case, internal McDonald`s documents revealed that the company had received hundreds of similar complaints from customers claiming that McDonald`s coffee had caused severe burns. In court, the jury found that McDonald`s knew its product was dangerous and harmed its customers and that the company had done nothing to resolve the issue. The jury chose $200,000 in damages, but awarded Liebeck 20 percent of the blame and reduced his compensation to $160,000. The jury also awarded Liebeck punitive damages of $2.7 million, which was equivalent to McDonald`s coffee sales for two days at the time. The judge later reduced the punitive damages to $480,000.

The case is often criticized for the very high damages awarded by the jury. Nevertheless, many legal scholars and documentary filmmakers such as Hot Coffee have argued that corporate lobbyists took the opportunity to create public misinformation and distrust of the legal system by omitting important facts in their TV commercials, such as the verdict in about 2 days corresponded to coffee sales for McDonald`s, that Liebeck had sustained permanent injuries to his genitals and groin, which had to be operated. and that McDonald`s had already received numerous complaints about the temperature of the coffee. [25] If a defendant`s financial situation is a key factor in determining the amount of punitive damages, is it also true that this information must be taken into account before such an award can be made? Prior to 1991, California courts regularly upheld punitive surcharges, even though there was no evidence of the defendant`s value. See e.B. Fenlon v. Brock (1989)216 CA3d 1174, 1179, 265 CR 324; Dumas v. Store (1989) 213 CA3d 1262, 1269, 262 CR 311; Greenfield vs Spectrum Inv. Corp.

(1985) 174 CA3d 111, 124, 219 CR 305; Fletcher vs Western Nat`l Life Ins. Co. (1970)10 CA3d 376, 404, 89 CR 78; Hanley v. Lund (1963) 218 CA2d 633, 645, 32 CR 733. The U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that punitive damages, which are four times higher than compensatory damages, are almost excessive, but remain constitutional. However, the court struck down an amount of punitive damages for which the ratio of punitive damages to damages was 145:1, on the grounds that it violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court suggested that it would be rare for a jury to have the right to award a more than one-figure damages ratio between punitive and punitive damages. Damages are intended to compensate claimants for the actual losses they have suffered.

This type of compensation may involve reimbursing them for medical treatment, medical bills, or future expenses they have due to an injury they suffered as a result of the negligence of another person or organization. These are usually referred to as actual damages. Any case of bodily injury is quite complicated, but once you enter a zone of punitive damage, the complexity skyrockets. The limits and methods of calculation vary greatly from state to state, which is why you need a lawyer by your side to help you through the process. They will also help determine whether or not the criteria necessary to award punitive damages are met. There are still situations where a minor case is eligible for punitive damages. .