Determining Damages: The Psychology of Jury Awards
Determining Damages examines whether jurors are able to assess damages in a fair and predictable manner. Jury decisions about damages have been deemed biased, capricious, unreliable, hostile to corporate defendants, excessively generous, and out of control. In this book, Greene and Bornstein provide an empirical analysis of the ways that jurors and juries determine damage awards. A theme that pervades the book is that in many respects, jurors charged with the complex task of compensating the injured and punishing the wrongdoers do a commendable job of it. When jury decisions diverge from what we expect, the difficulty of the decision-making context may be at least as much to blame as any moral or intellectual failings on the part of individual jurors.
The authors discuss the factors that influence damages assessment, such as the identity of the plaintiff, defendant, and jurors themselves; the severity and nature of the injury; and the conduct of the litigants. They also examine the different reasoning processes that jurors use to determine what they believe are just awards. The book culminates with a discussion that considers whether or not our jury system should be reformed. Should damage awards be capped? What are the effects of bifurcating trials? Or should the role of the juror be eliminated completely? The authors' detailed analysis suggests that aspects of the present jury system may contribute more to unpredictable and unfounded decisions than do jurors' abilities to be fair and reasonable.