Monday, May 19, 2008

Prof. Sebok Posts Essay on Punitive Damages Limitations on SSRN

Professor Anthony Sebok (Brooklyn) recently posted a brief essay entitled After Philip Morris v. Williams: What is Left of the 'Single-Digit' Ratio? on SSRN. Here is the Abstract:

This short essay was written for a symposium on The Future of Punitive Damages held at the Charleston School of Law in 2007. I argue that the ratio rule (that punitive damages that exceed a single digit ratio presumptively violate the Due Process Clause), introduced by the Supreme Court in Campbell, is unlikely to survive. I argue this for three reasons. First, many lower courts have found ways to conceal punitive damages awards that impose, in reality, ratios in the double-digits. Second, the refusal of the Court to reverse the plaintiffs punitive damages award in Williams under the ratio rule - given that it was 98 times the compensatory award - suggests that there are members of the Court who may not want to stand behind the rule. Third, the rule represents a mistaken critique of punitive damages.

A full-text version of the essay may be downloaded at


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