Deborah J. LaFetra Reviews: Punitive Damages: How Juries Decide - By Cass R. Sunstein, Reid Hastie, John W. Payne, David A. Schkade, and W. Kip Viscusi
October 1, 2002Deborah J. LaFetra
Tort reformers look at outrageously large punitive damages as one of the most visible signs of a justice system gone awry. The rule of law depends on consistent remedies applied to tortious wrongs. Instead, the newspapers trumpet punitive damage awards in ever-increasing amounts, leading many pro-reform commentators to label the phenomenon, “Jackpot Justice.” The anecdotes have become familiar: the old lady who got millions from McDonald’s after she spilled hot coffee in her lap while driving; the BMW paint touch-up worth $4,000 in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages, and the granddaddy of them all: the $145 billion tobacco verdict.