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University of St. Thomas Law Journal

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Common law punitive damages have some feature that will get everyone's goat: a civil court meting out quasi-criminal punishment; a sanction, punishment, imposed after mere civil procedure; a civil jury stretching imprecise instructions into Robin Hood justice; a private plaintiff receiving a windfall that exceeds any reasonable estimate of loss; and, finally, the Supreme Court wielding the discredited doctrine of substantive due process. This article will examine the preceding fault lines and the countervailing considerations, devoting more attention to substantive due process than the others. It will then turn to Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker, and include some modest conclusions of my own.


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