Punitive Damages

ALABAMA

Clear and convincing evidence of deliberate or conscious malice.

Caps:
The greater of three times compensatory damages or $500,000 in civil actions. (Does not apply to Wrongful Death, intentional torts, or class actions). Personal injury cases, however, are capped at three times compensatory damages or $1,500,000, whichever is greater.

ALASKA
Clear and convincing evidence of outrageous or reckless indifference.

Caps:
Three times compensatory damages or $500,000.
ARIZONA
Never against public entity or employee.

Permitted if plaintiff proves that defendant was guided by an evil mind; spiteful motives; outrageous, oppressive, or intolerable conduct.

ARKANSAS
Standard is whether the amount of the award "shocks the conscience" of the court.
CALIFORNIA
Must be proven by clear and convincing evidence of oppression, fraud, or malice.
COLORADO
May be awarded in circumstances of fraud, malice, or willful or wanton conduct. Requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt and may not ordinarily exceed compensatory damages. Court may increase to three times compensatory damages in certain situations. No punitive damages against municipalities.
CONNECTICUT
Allowed in specified circumstances only.
DELAWARE
Allowed where act is malicious, willful, or wanton.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Not allowed.
FLORIDA
Plaintiff must first demonstrate a reasonable basis for recovery of punitive damages. Then, plaintiff must prove intentional conduct or gross negligence by clear and convincing proof. Caps: Three times compensatory damages or $500,000 unless plaintiff demonstrates to court by clear and convincing evidence that a greater award is not excessive.
GEORGIA
Plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence of malicious intent or willful or wanton conduct. Caps: No caps for product liability cases, where there is malicious intent, or involving conduct influenced by drugs or alcohol. Other torts caped at $250,000, but this limitation can be ignored if there is specific intent to cause harm. In products liability cases, 75% of punitive damage award is paid to the State.
HAWAII
Recoverable if clear and convincing proof. Caps: None
IDAHO
Only where wanton or outrageous conduct, fraud, malice, or gross negligence. Caps: None
ILLINOIS
Plaintiff must show reasonable likelihood of proving facts at trial of willful or wanton standard. No punitive damages unless actual damages recovered. Caps: None
INDIANA
Not recoverable in an action brought under the wrongful death statute. May not be greater than 3 times the amount of compensatory damages awarded in the action or $50,000 (whichever is greater) - any higher award must be reduced by the court. Punitive damages are paid to the clerk of the court who then pays 25% of the award to the plaintiff and 75% to the state's violent crime victim's compensation board.
IOWA
Clear and convincing evidence that defendant acted with willful or wanton conduct. Caps: None
KANSAS
Clear and convincing evidence of willful or wanton conduct must be presented. Numerous rules apply to amount of punitive damages which may be awarded. For medical malpractice, specific rules apply to amount permitted and half of punitive damages collected are to be paid to health care stabilization fund. Caps: None
KENTUCKY
Clear and convincing evidence must be presented to indicate that defendant acted with malice, oppression, or fraud. Amounts in various circumstances governed by numerous specific statues. Caps: None
LOUISIANA
Limited to specific situations governed by statute. Wanton or reckless conduct involving driving while intoxicated, criminal sexual activity with victims 17 or younger, and the sale or distribution of illegal drugs.
MAINE
Allowed if defendant acts with actual malice Caps: None
MARYLAND
Allowed in non-intentional tort actions only upon clear and convincing proof of malice. No municipal liability for punitive damages.
MASSACHUSETTS
Allowed in certain circumstances, however, numerous statutory rules apply to punitive damage awards.
MICHIGAN
Permitted without limitation.
MINNESOTA
Follows common law rules.
MISSISSIPPI
Plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence that defendant acted with actual malice, or gross negligence which evidences willful, wanton or reckless disregard for safety of others, or committed actual fraud. Caps: None
MISSOURI
Allowed where injuries are negligently caused and the negligence is of such aggravated form or attended by such circumstances as to be wanton or reckless in character. Caps: None
MONTANA
Plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence. Reasonable punitive damages can be awarded where defendant is found guilty of actual fraud or actual malice, including wanton disregard. Caps: $10 million, or 3% of defendant's net worth except in class actions.
NEBRASKA
Generally not allowed.
NEVADA
Clear and convincing evidence must be presented to prove that defendant is guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, express or implied. Caps: Three times compensatory damages if damages exceed $100,000 or, if compensatory damages are less, no more than $300,000 but does not apply in products cases. Numerous other statutory limitations apply.
NEW HAMPSHIRE
Permitted for malice, wanton or willful indignity in causing injury, willful trespass and conversion.
NEW JERSEY
Common law rules apply.
NEW MEXICO
In contract of tort where wrongdoer has culpable mental state and conduct rises to willful, wanton, malicious, reckless, oppressive, or fraudulent level.
NEW YORK
Punitive damages may be awarded in cases of actual malice, or such wanton or reckless action as to infer malice or in personal injury actions based on negligence if such negligence amounts to flagrant misconduct. Separate trial held on the issue after a finding of liability and compensatory damages. Defendant's assets are placed in issue.
NORTH CAROLINA
May be awarded in discretion of jury where defendant is liable for compensatory damages and aggravating factor of fraud, malice, or willful, wanton conduct is present. Cap: Three times compensatory damages or $250,000.
NORTH DAKOTA
Clear and convincing evidence necessary. Caps: Two times compensatory damages or $250,000.
OHIO
Clear and convincing evidence that conduct of defendant was malicious and intentional. Amounts vary depending upon conduct of defendant. Caps: Depends on outcome of claim.
OKLAHOMA
Clear and convincing evidence that conduct of defendant was malicious and intentional. Amounts vary depending upon conduct of defendant. Caps: Depends on outcome of claim.
OREGON
Plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence of malice or reckless and outrageous indifference to highly unreasonable risk of harm and conscious indifference to health, safety, and welfare of others. Specific exceptions and regulations exist. Caps: None.
PENNSYLVANIA
In claim for punitive damages, wealth of defendant discoverable only by court order.
RHODE ISLAND
Punitive damages may be awarded in torts involving malice, wantonness, or willfulness, false imprisonment, assault, libel, or slander.
SOUTH CAROLINA
Plaintiff must present clear and convincing evidence of malice or reckless and outrageous indifference to highly unreasonable risk of harm and conscious indifference to health, safety, and welfare of others. Specific exceptions and regulations exist.
SOUTH DAKOTA
Court must first hold hearing and find by clear and convincing evidence that there has been willful, wanton or malicious conduct. Caps: None
TENNESSEE
Clear and convincing evidence of intentional, fraudulent, reckless, or malicious conduct must be presented by plaintiff. Caps: None
TEXAS
Must establish liability for damages by clear and convincing evidence. Caps: Two times the amount of economic damages, plus amount equal to any non-economic damages found by jury not to exceed $750,000 or in the alternative, $200,000 total exemplary damages. *General Note: All Texas statutes of limitation extended to next business day if last day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday.
U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS
None
UTAH
Follows common law rules.
VERMONT
Allowed where malicious act or neglect proved.
VIRGINIA
Rule: Allowed. Caps: $350,000
WASHINGTON
Not allowed except where provided by statute.
WEST VIRGINIA
Allowed where injury is inflicted intentionally or with malice, willfulness or wanton disregard of plaintiff's rights.
WISCONSIN
In cases of malice or intentional disregard for plaintiff's rights. Clear and convincing for negligence cases. Punitive damages not available where no award of actual damages.
WYOMING
Willful and wanton conduct. Plaintiff must first prove actual damages. Caps: None

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