Exxon v. Baker case brief summary (2008)
(standards for judges) In federal maritime cases (area of general common law), ratio of punitive:compensatory damages shouldn’t exceed 1:1, to promote predictability in damages
- Court seems to be trying to establish a broad federal common law rule
- Three categories:
- Verbal Formulations
- Aimed at jury (Jury Instructions) or judge (through legal standards)
- Allows discretion, case by case analysis.
- Disadvantages: Instructions can only go so far when awards aren’t tied to specific items of damage. It is inevitable that punitive damages awarded will be arbitrary.
- Hard $ Cap
- Disadvantage - extremely arbitrary. No standard injury makes it very difficult to settle on a proper amount across the board. Can grossly overcompensate or undercompensate.
- With a Multiplier of Compensatory Damages
- Controls for inflation
- Reflected in actual practices (statistics), if not actual rules, of states
- Disadvantages - likely to be disappointing where comp. is small. Unlikely to deter where the D is not likely to be caught.