Personal Injury Law


LegalSpeak: Hodges v. S.C. Toof Co. (Tenn. 1992)

In a trial where punitive damages are sought, the court, upon motion of defendant, shall bifurcate the trial. During the first phase, the factfinder shall determine (1) liability for, and the amount of, compensatory damages and (2) liability for punitive damages in accordance with the standards announced above. During this phase, evidence of a defendant’s financial affairs, financial condition, or net worth is not admissible.

If the factfinder finds a defendant liable for punitive damages, the amount of such damages shall then be determined in an immediate, separate proceeding. During this second phase, the factfinder shall consider, to the extent relevant, at least the following:

  • (1) The defendant’s financial affairs, financial condition, and net worth;

  • (2) The nature and reprehensibility of defendant’s wrongdoing, for example
    (A) The impact of defendant’s conduct on the plaintiff, or
    (B) The relationship of defendant to plaintiff;

  • (3) The defendant’s awareness of the amount of harm being caused and defendant’s motivation in causing the harm;

  • (4) The duration of defendant’s misconduct and whether defendant attempted to conceal the conduct;

  • (5) The expense plaintiff has borne in the attempt to recover the losses;

  • (6) Whether defendant profited from the activity, and if defendant did profit, whether the punitive award should be in excess of the profit in order to deter similar future behavior;

  • (7) Whether, and the extent to which, defendant has been subjected to previous punitive damage awards based upon the same wrongful act;

  • (8) Whether, once the misconduct became known to defendant, defendant took remedial action or attempted to make amends by offering a prompt and fair settlement for actual harm caused; and

  • (9) Any other circumstances shown by the evidence that bear on determining the proper amount of the punitive award.


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