Every parent knows that, from time to time, a little punishment can be warranted. We generally punish for the really bad stuff, and even then, the punishment has to “fit the crime.” In really bad cases, juries can punish bad behavior too by awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are hard to actually prove, and as a result, are rarely awarded.
The type of behavior punitive damages discourage is the worst of the worst – intentional, dangerous behavior. The classic example is the infamous Ford Pinto, often recognized as one of the worst cars of all time. Ford engineers knew its gas tank design was likely catch fire in a crash and knew how to fix it for only $11 per car, but decided it would be cheaper to let people burn and pay the lawsuits.
Why, then, did the Ohio Supreme Court recently make it even harder to punish wrongdoers when they deserve it? And why are lawmakers in Arizona seeking to exempt manufacturers of dangerous products from being punished when their conduct warrants it? How will this create jobs or make products safer? Hint: It’s not a trick question.
What does this mean to you?