Letter to the Editor: Let juries decide damages

Los Angeles Times
Monday, December 15, 2008

In your editorial, you argue that the Supreme Court should interfere with the long-standing authority of local courts to award punitive damages in injury cases.
History shows that companies will sometimes balance safety against profits in determining whether to redesign or recall a defective product, clean up a toxic waste site or end a dangerous practice. Juries know that, to a multibillion-dollar company, even a $1-million punitive damages award is barely a slap on the wrist.
It should be the juries' job, and only theirs, to determine damages based on the facts before them. There are some who still insist that it's appropriate to set arbitrary limits on punitive damages, so they become little more than a cost of doing business for bad corporate citizens. Given the rash of corporate abuse that has led to our financial meltdown, this seems like the worst possible idea at the worst possible time.
Joanne Doroshow
New York
The writer is executive director of the Center for Justice & Democracy.

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