Posttrial Adjustments to Jury Awards

by Michael G. Shanley, Mark A. Peterson


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Motivated by the recent national debate on the growth of jury awards, this report examines how jury awards change after trial. It considers not just tort actions, but all civil suits for money damages. For all types of cases, it (1) compares jury awards to final payments, (2) examines how results vary by award size, and (3) studies whether results differ by case characteristics. The authors find that, in the locales studied, defendants paid out an average proportion of 0.71 of the amount the jury originally awarded. Further, reductions were generally greater among cases with the largest awards. However, some sizable awards were not lowered, and results differed significantly depending on the characteristics of the case. The findings suggest that the system works already in much the same way that the current proposals for legal change are intended to work, namely by affecting "excessive" awards.

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