December 7, 2009

Paper Contains a Wealth of Statistics on Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards

Alison F. Del Rossi and W. Kip Viscusi have posted a paper on SSRN entitled "The Changing Landscape of Blockbuster Punitive Damages Awards."
The authors note that since the State Farm decision in 2004, the number of blockbuster decisions has tapered off, and the magnitude of the relationship between aggregate punitive damages and compensatory damages in recent blockbuster cases is almost half of what it was before State Farm. Interestingly, the paper indicates that levels of punitive damages awards are more strongly correlated to the type of industry involved, rather than the amount of compensatory damages.
Attached to the paper is a table listing every punitive damage award of at least $100 million awarded since 1985. Another table categorizes those awards by industry. The results may surprise you. The "Energy, Chemical" industry has generated the largest number of blockbuster awards with 25. The "Finance, Investment, Insurance" industry is a close second with 23. The "Pharmaceuticals, Health Care" industry is third with 16. The auto industry is fourth with 9. And the tobacco industry is a distant fifth, with only 5 blockbuster awards.

It comes as no surprise that California has generated the most blockbuster punitive damages awards - - 21 in total. Texas is right on our heels with 20, and no other state is even in the same neighborhood.