F.S. 768.72 allows personal injury claimants in Florida to seek punitive damages against defendants for especially egregious wrongs.
However, there are many limits on these damages. Although they are received by the plaintiff, they are not intended to compensate the plaintiff. Rather, they are intended to punish the defendant. Courts have to first grant plaintiffs permission to seek these damages in the first place. Beyond that, they cannot be “unconstitutionally excessive,” though there is no exact dollar-figure cut-off.
The recent car accident lawsuit of State Farm v. Brewer (consolidated with the appeal of Goellner v. Brewer) before Florida’s Second District Court of Appeals reveals how the courts can approach these cases to determine what is reasonable and what is excessive. Continue reading →