Alison F. Del Rossi and W. Kip Viscusi have a recent article on "blockbuster punitive damages awards" up at Social Science Research Network. This is the first time CBL has run across Dr. Del Rossi. Dr. Viscusi writes extensively on punitive damages, and co-authored (with U. of Chicago's Cass Sunstein and others) the book Punitive Damages: How Juries Decide. The book is a pretty interesting read, finding that the best predictor for how high the punitive award goes is how much the plaintiff attorney had the nerve to ask the jury for. In other words, the plaintiff doesn't necessarily get what he asks for, but the more he asks for, the more he gets.
Anyway, back to the article, this is full of all kinds of distributions and trends and means and medians and ratios and regressions and p-values and chi-squared tests and other barnburners like that, all intended to show that in cases where the punitive award is $100 million or more, jury awards -- not just judgments -- are trending downward since SCOTUS's State Farm v. Campbell decision. For us California-centric types, though, Table 3 is the most interesting: it shows 99 "blockbuster" punitive awards from 1985 to 2008. Twenty-one are in California, twenty are in Texas. The next highest number for any state is Alabama, with six.