his article is an attempt to acquaint the reader with contemporary legal issues surrounding punitive damages in the United States. Pursuant to U.S. federalism, most private law in the United States is state law and can vary significantly from state to state. Contract law, tort (injury) law, property law and criminal law are mainly state law. Many of these areas are governed largely by common law which means that there are no statutes, and courts make the law in the course of resolving individual legal controversies. It is the state common law of injury that allows punitive damages in the United States. Thus, most of the law that is discussed in this article is made by state judges in the absence of governing statutes.
Jack M. Beermann,
Punitive Damages in the United States
Newsletter of the Deutsche-Amerikanische Juristen Vereinigung/ Zeitschrift fur Deutsches und Amerikanisches Recht
Available at: https://scholarship.law.bu.edu/faculty_scholarship/2001