What are Punitive Damages in Mississippi
A Punitive Damages award is a monetary award against the defendant to punish the wrongdoer for bad acts and deter similar bad conduct by others in the future. A Compensatory Damages award is a monetary award to make the plaintiff whole for the harm suffered.
Before entering a judgment for an award of punitive damages, the jury must first determine whether an award of compensatory damages are to be awarded and in what amount.
If an award of compensatory damages has been made against the defendant, the court will promptly commence an evidentiary hearing to determine whether punitive damages may be considered by the same jury. If so, the jury will determine whether an amount of punitive damages will be awarded and in what amount.
When Punitive Damages Will Be Awarded
The trier of fact in a case involving an award of punitive damages, will consider the following:
- financial condition of the defendant
- nature and reprehensibility of the defendants wrongdoing
- impact of the defendant’s conduct on the plaintiff
- relationship of the plaintiff and defendant
- defendant’s awareness of the amount of harm being caused
- defendants motivation for causing such harm
- duration of defendant’s misconduct
- whether the defendant attempted to conceal the misconduct
- circumstances surrounding the defendant’s conduct
Reasonableness of Punitive Damages in Mississippi
After an award by the jury of punitive damages, the court shall determine the reasonableness of such award. In determining the reasonableness of such award, the court will consider the following:
- relationship between the punitive damages awarded and the harm likely to result from the defendant’s conduct as well is the actual harm that occurred
- degree of reprehensibility of the defendant’s conduct
- duration of the conduct
- defendant’s awareness of such conduct
- any concealment of such conduct
- existence and frequency of similar past conduct
- financial condition and net worth of the defendant
- the deposition of criminal sanctions on the defendant for his conduct
- any other suitable awards against the defendant for the same kind of conduct
Seller of Products other than the Manufacturer
The seller of the product other than the manufacturer shall not be liable for punitive damages unless the seller exercise reasonable substantial control over that aspect of the design, testing, manufacture, packaging or labeling of the product that caused the harm.
The seller of the product must have altered or modified the product and the alteration or modification was a substantial factor in causing the harm for which the recovery of damages sought, or the seller had actual knowledge of the defective condition of the product at the time he supplied it.
Caps on Punitive Damages in Mississippi
In Mississippi, these are the maximum amount of Punitive Damages that can be awarded:
Defendants Net Worth
Maximum Award of Punitive Damages
|$750,000,000 through $1,000,000,000||$15,000,000|
|$500,000,000 through $750,000,000||$5,000,000|
|$100,000,000 through $500,000,000||$3,750,000|
|$50,000,000 through $100,000,000||$2,500,000|
$50,000,000 or less
|2% of the Defendant’s Net Worth|
The limitations on the amount of punitive damages listed above shall not be disclosed to the jury, but shall be applied by the court to any punitive damages verdict in excess of the above limits. The limitation on the amount punitive damages listed above shall not apply to actions brought for damages or injury resulting from an act or failure to act by the defendant, if:
- defendant was under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol
- defendant was convicted of a felony for the damages or injury caused
It must be proven by the Plaintiff by ‘Clear and Convincing Evidence’ that the defendant acted with actual malice, gross negligence which evidences a willful, won’t reckless disregard for the safety of others, or committed actual fraud before punitive damages can be awarded.
*See Mississippi Code §11-1-65 for more information.
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