damages to the state constituted a violation of the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment and the Indiana Constitution b. Rules i. Purpose of Punitive Damages is not to make the plaintiff whole or to attempt to value the injuries of the plaintiff. Rather, punitive damages, sometimes designate “private fines” or “exemplary damages” have historically been viewed as designed to deter and punish wrongful activity . They are quasi criminal in nature. ii. A plaintiff has no right or entitlement to an award of punitive damages in any amount iii. A claim for punitive a damages can be sustained only if it is accompanied by a viable claim for compensatory damages c. Reasoning i. General assembly is free to eliminate punitive damages completely as other states have done and also has wide discretion in modifying this quasi criminal sanction. ii. Punitive damages are a creature of common law and the legislature if free to create, modify, or abolish common law causes of action 4. State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins Co v. Campbell (leading punitive damages case) a. Facts i. Campbell (plaintiff) was driving with his wife in Utah and attempted to pass six vans traveling ahead of them on a two- lane highway. Todd Ospital was driving a small car approaching them from the opposite direction. To avoid a head-on collision with Campbell, Ospital swerved into the shoulder. However, he lost control of his car and collided with a vehicle driven by Robert Slusher. Ospital was killed and Slusher was rendered permanently disabled. The Campbells were not injured. In a later wrongful death and tort action, Campbell insisted he was not at fault. Even after investigations pointed to the fact that
Campbell’s recklessness caused the crash, his insurance company, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. (defendant), decided to contest liability and declined offers by Slusher and Ospital’s estate to settle the claims for the policy limit of $50,000. Additionally, State Farm ignored the advice of its own investigators and took the case to trial, assuring the Campbells that their assets were safe, they were not liable, and State Farm would represent their interests. Instead, a jury found that Campbell was one hundred percent at fault, and a judgment was returned for $185,849. At first, State Farm refused to cover the excess liability of $135,849 over the Campbells’ policy limit of $50,000, but they later paid. ii. Campbell then filed complaint against State Farm alleging bad faith, fraud, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Jury awarded 145 million in punitive damages and trial court reduced to 1 m, both parties applied, supreme court reinstated 145 million, at the end US supreme court reinstated 1 m b. Rules i. Compensatory damages are intended to redress the concrete loss that the plaintiff has suffered by reason of the defendant’s wrongful conduct ii. Punitive Damages serve a broader function, they are aimed at deterrence and retribution 1. Courts suggest that punitive damages should be signal digit multiple of compensatory damage iii.
- Spring '08
- Tort Law, Tort reform, i. Keva Richardson, Doris Cheatham