Cover: Trends in Punitive Damages

Trends in Punitive Damages

Preliminary Data from California

Published 1995

by Erik Moller

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 0.4 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 10 or higher for the best experience.

This paper presents preliminary results of an Institute for Civil Justice analysis of trends in punitive damage awards. The data are drawn from Jury Verdicts Weekly, which reports verdicts in California Superior Court jurisdictions. The findings indicate that the actual number of punitive damage awards in each jurisdiction was quite modest, that punitive damages are awarded more frequently in some types of cases than others (punitive damages were most likely to be awarded in intentional tort cases and business and contract disputes), and that the number of punitive damage awards varies over time. Median and mean awards rose in San Francisco County from 1985-1989, but the maximum award and total amount of punitive damages awarded decreased. Finally, the proportion of total dollars awarded to plaintiffs that is attributable to punitive damages increased between the 1980-1984 and the 1985-1989 periods.

This report is part of the RAND draft series. The unrestricted draft was a product of RAND from 1993 to 2003 that represented preliminary or prepublication versions of other more formal RAND products for distribution to appropriate external audiences. The draft could be considered similar to an academic discussion paper. Although unrestricted drafts had been approved for circulation, they were not usually formally edited or peer reviewed.

This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit

RAND is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.