Supporting a punitive damages claim – Does the punishment fit the crime?
Abstract: Punitive damages may represent a significant portion of a plaintiff’s recovery — in some cases dwarfing compensatory damages. But in recent years, the courts have found that punitive damages may offend constitutional due process protections if they are “grossly excessive” in relation to the government’s legitimate interest in punishment and deterrence. This article uses several cases to help readers understand the factors that support punitive damages, the constitutional limits on those damages, and the relationship between punitive and compensatory damages. BMW of North America, Inc. v. Gore, 517 U.S. 559 (1996) State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003) Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Insurance Co., No. B234271 (Cal. App. Dist. 2, 8/29/2013)