Using data from punitive damages decisions of U.S. federal circuit courts from 2004 to 2012, this paper attempts to establish empirically the following: (1) there is no apparent statistical difference between the levels of jury and judge awards; (2) U.S. Supreme Court decisions such as Philip Morris (2007) or Exxon (2008) do not actually or substantially affect the level of punitive damage awards; (3) with regard to the cases involving remittitur, or reduction of awards, the Exxon decision did not radically affect the decreasing ratio of punitive to compensatory damage awards; (4) as the levels of compensatory awards go up, the ratio becomes strikingly low and stable; (5) finally, the proportionality between punitive and compensatory awards is not the key factor that influences upper court judges when they consider the constitutionality of punitive damages. Unexplained portions of the relationship between the amount of punitive damages and the wealth of a defendant remain to be examined further.
Punitive Damages Revisited: A Statistical Analysis of How Federal Circuit Courts Decide the Constitutionality of Such Awards,
65 Clev. St. L. Rev.
available at http://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/clevstlrev/vol65/iss3/7