This Article will provide a brief review of the purpose and history of punitive damages. It will then examine the various reforms adopted by the states, with a particular focus on "split-recovery" laws that require punitive damages recoveries to be shared with the state or a state-specified fund. This Article explains that such laws may actually fuel, rather than curb, punitive damages awards. The Article also explains that these laws are ethically and constitutionally problematic. This Article concludes that states seeking to reform their punitive damages laws would be better served by (1) adopting a heightened burden of proof and liability standard for punitive damages claims, (2) enacting statutory caps to ensure greater proportionality between punitive and compensatory damages awards, and (3) providing for a bifurcated trial at a defendant's request. The split-recovery approach should be rejected.
Victor E. Schwartz, Mark A. Behrens, and Cary Silverman,
I'll Take That: Legal and Public Policy Problems Raised by Statutes That Require Punitive Damages Awards to be Shared with the State,
68 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol68/iss3/1