Dateline: September, 2007, Issue 2

When do judges award higher punitive damages than juries?

Judges and juries often reach similar decisions, although there are times these decisions differ.

Eisenberg and colleagues (2006) analyzed thousands of trials from a substantial part of the nation's most populous counties.

Evidence across 10 years and three major data sets suggests that juries and judges differentially award punitive damages in financial injury and bodily injury cases.

Jury trials have a higher rate of punitive damage awards in financial injury cases, while bench trials have a higher rate of punitive damage awards in bodily injury cases.

Source Eisenberg, T., Hannaford-Agor, P. L., Heise, M., LaFountain, N., Munsterman, G. T., Ostrom, B. & Wells, M. T. (2006). Juries, judges, and punitive damages: Empirical analyses using the civil justice survey of state courts 1992, 1996, and 2001 data. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 3, pp. 263-295.