Why Punitive Damages Don't Deter Corporate Misconduct Effectively

E. Donald Elliott, Yale Law School


Should the "ancient rule" of punitive damages, which authorizes juries to award private fines in civil cases, be abandoned or "maintained" by supplying "new reasons more fitted to the time"? That is the central question underlying this Symposium, and the current debate concerning punitive damages. The answer, I submit, turns on what purposes we want the private tort law system to serve, a subject which is itself in flux and much debated.