Supreme Court: Due Process Clause Prohibits Punitive Damages Based on Harm to Non-parties

March 01, 2007

Punitive damages are designed to punish a defendant for egregious conduct and deter future reprehensible conduct on the part of the defendant or others. Particularly in the context of juries unchecked by proper legal instructions and unorthodox trial plans that prematurely address the punitive damages issue, they constitute a serious litigation threat to businesses today. In aggregated litigation, such damagers have the potential to lead to crippling verdicts, and thus the threat of punitive damages may coerce "blackmail" settlements.

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