Punitive damages are an additional sum, over and above the compensation of the plaintiff, awarded in order to punish the defendant, to make an example of him, and to deter him and others from engaging in similar tortious conduct.
Because they are made to punish, they are focused on the behavior of the defendant, not the plaintiff.
The state can limit how much of a punitive damages award a plaintiff will receive.
Punitive damages are taxed.
The majority says that punitive damages cannot be recovered against a defendant's estate.
The majority allows evidence of the defendant's wealth to be admitted for punitive damages.
Most jurisdictions have "clear and convincing" as the standard of proof for establishing entitlement to punitive damages. This is a higher standard than the usual preponderance of the evidence.
The majority and the Restatement Third permit employers to be liable for punitive damages for their employees if:
- The principal authorized or ratified the act,
- The principal was reckless in employing or retaining the employee, or
- The employee was employed in a managerial capacity and was acting in the scope of employment