Brief Fact Summary. Kemezy (Plaintiff) sued Peters (Defendant), an Indiana policeman, claiming that Defendant had wantonly beat Plaintiff with his nightstick. The jury awarded Plaintiff punitive damages.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. In punitive damage awards, Plaintiff is not required to present evidence of Defendant’s wealth.
Issue. Is it Plaintiff’s burden to introduce evidence concerning the defendant’s net worth?
Held. No. Judgment affirmed
* The standard judicial formulation of the purpose of punitive damages is that it is to punish the defendant for reprehensible conduct and to deter him and others form engaging in similar conduct.
* Plaintiff is not required to present evidence of Defendant’s wealth. Naturally, a jury will award more punitive damages if Defendant is wealthy. A $1,000.00 dollar punitive damage award does not effectively punish a multi-million dollar corporation. But $1,000.00 could effectively punish an individual on a modest income. It could be to be Plaintiff’s benefit to introduce evidence of Defendant’s wealth in hopes of obtaining a large award, however, the court holds that Plaintiff is not forced to present such evidence.
When the defendant is to be fully indemnified, such evidence, far from being required, is inadmissible.View Full Point of Law