Determining Damages: The Psychology of Jury Awards
For individuals in the U.S. & U.S. territories
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.
- Characterizing Jury Damage Awards
I. The Issue of Identity: How Plaintiff, Defendant, and Juror Characteristics Influence Damage Award Decisions
- Who is the Plaintiff?
- Who is the Defendant?
- Who are the Jurors?
II. The Evidence: How Injury Severity and Litigants' Conduct Influence Damage Award Decisions
- Severity and Nature of the Injury
- The Litigants' Conduct
III. Decision Processes and Reforms: How Jurors Reason About Damages and How Damage Award Decisions Might be Improved
- How Jurors Reason About Damages
- Reforming Damage Award Decision Making
- Final Remarks and Recommendations
Table of Authorities
About the Authors
Edie Greene earned her PhD in psychology and law at the University of Washington in 1983. She is currently a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs. From 1994 to 1995, Dr. Greene was a Fellow in Law and Psychology at Harvard Law School. In 1999, she received her college's award for Outstanding Research and Creative Works, and in 2001 she was honored with the campuswide research award. She has been invited to lecture at the National Judicial College and at continuing legal education programs nationwide.
Dr. Greene has received several federally funded grants to support her research on jury decision making and eyewitness memory. She consults with lawyers on various trial-related issues, including trial strategies and jury decisions, and has, on numerous occasions, testified as an expert witness on jury behavior and eyewitness memory. She is the author of many articles and book chapters and coauthor of Psychology and the Legal System (2002). Away from work, she plays the piano and enjoys doing chamber music with her family. She likes to ski, hike, and mountain bike.
Brian H. Bornstein earned his PhD in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and a Master of Legal Studies from the University of Nebraska in 2001. He has been a faculty member and associate director of the University of Nebraska's law–psychology program since 2001, where he is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology and College of Law. Before he came to Nebraska, he was on the faculty at Bucknell University and Louisiana State University. He teaches courses in cognitive psychology, psychology and law, and the history of psychology.
Dr. Bornstein's research interests focus on jury decision making and eyewitness memory but also include medical decision making, lay notions of justice, and basic memory phenomena. He has received federal funding for his research, has published dozens of articles, and is a Fulbright award recipient. He also consults on issues of jury selection and trial strategy, has served as an expert witness regarding eyewitness memory and decision processes, and is on the editorial board of Law and Human Behavior. In his free time, he enjoys relaxing with his family, reading, cooking, and engaging in various sporting activities.