The Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards
Viscusi, W. Kip
This paper provides an analysis of sixty-four punitive damages awards of at least $100 million. Based on an inventory of these cases, there is evidence that these blockbuster awards are highly concentrated geographically, as two states account for twenty-seven of the sixty-four awards. The awards also have been rising substantially over time, with the majority of these blockbuster awards taking place since 1999. An assessment of the current status of the blockbuster punitive damages awards indicates that most of these awards have been appealed, but the reversal of these punitive damages awards is the exception rather than the rule. Many large punitive damages awards are settled without any appeal. The ratio limits outlined in State Farm v. Campbell will affect over ninety percent of the blockbuster awards and over 90% of the damages associated with these awards if a ratio of 1.0 becomes the upper limit on punitive damages.