Punitive Damages, also known as exemplary damages, may be awarded by the Trier of fact (Judge) in addition to actual damages which compensate a plaintiff for losses suffered due to the harm caused by a defendant. Punitive Damages serve as a way of punishing the defendant in a civil lawsuit and are based on the theory that the interests of society and of the individual harmed can be met by imposing additional damages on a defendant that is found in the wrong.
Punitive Damages have been characterized as “quasi-criminal” because they stand half-way between civil and criminal law. Though they may be awarded to a plaintiff in a civil lawsuit, they are non compensatory in the nature of a criminal fine. The purpose of Punitive Damages is to punish the defendant for outrageous conduct deterring the defendant and others form similar behavior in the future. The nature of the wrongdoing that justifies punitive damages is variable and imprecise and must be skillfully presented to the Trier of fact by seasoned legal counsel. The terms that characterize conduct justifying these damages include: bad faith, fraud, malice, oppression, outrageous, reckless, wanton and wicked behavior. These aggravating circumstances typically refer to situations in which the defendant acted intentionally, maliciously or with utter disregard for the rights and interests of the plaintiff.
Unless otherwise required by statue, the awarding of Punitive Damages is left to the discretion of the Trier of fact when properly suggested by legal counsel. In some instances, an award of nominal damages, which acknowledges that a legal right has been violated but little harm has been inflicted, may be an adequate foundation for the recovery of punitive damages. In others, where outrageous behavior where deeply damaging outcomes have been inflicted, greater amounts of substantial monetary amounts may be awarded in conveying a stronger message from the courts. Through carefully planned strategies in court, maximum victories of $25,000.00, applications of contract interest rates along with the application of rule 14.04, Shaw Legal Service has been repetitively successful in garnering Superior Court of Justice endorsements well in excess of $40,000.00 for their clients