Friday, February 6, 2015

Exxon v. Baker case brief summary

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
      • Consistency
      • 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.

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