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Limitations on Punitive Damages Against Insurers Since State Farm v. Campbell: Lessons for Insurers

Anthony W. Morris, J. Stephen Berry and P. Michael Freed
Journal of Insurance Issues
Vol. 31, No. 2 (FALL 2008), pp. 75-97
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41946284
Page Count: 23
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Limitations on Punitive Damages Against Insurers Since State Farm v. Campbell: Lessons for Insurers
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Abstract

This article focuses on the limitations imposed on punitive damages awards by the United States Supreme Court, concentrating on how these limitations have been applied by lower courts in actions against insurance companies. The article begins by examining the Supreme Court's three "guideposts" for determining whether a punitive award complies with due process. The article focuses on the compensatory damages predicate for determining a punitive award pursuant to the second "guidepost" requiring trial courts to examine the ratio between actual and potential harm and the punitive award. The article examines what types of damages have been included in the predicate in bad-faith claims against insurers, and argues that under black-letter contract law, only the plaintiffs bad-faith tort damages should be included in the actual or potential harm side of the ratio. Finally, the article examines how the "reprehensibility" of insurers' conduct has affected punitive awards against insurers.

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