This Casenote examines the role of punitive damages in tort law and the actions of the Ohio Supreme Court in Dardinger v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield. The author begins by describing the anomalous nature of punitive damages, which are a form of punishment, being given to a plaintiff in a tort system that is compensatory in nature. The author then gives an overview of the punitive damages doctrine historically and as it exists today. Next, the author discusses the Dardinger case and analyzes the implications of the court's decision to remit a portion of the punitive damages on condition that the award be given to a third party beneficiary. The analysis takes into consideration several important factors, including the separation of powers doctrine, the Eight Amendment, the Fifth Amendment, and possible undesirable consequences. The author concludes that the judiciary is the proper branch to distribute punitive damages to worthy third party beneficiaries so long as there are some restrictions to prevent judges from rewarding their own pet projects.
Dardinger v. Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield: Judicial Redistribution of Punitive Damage Awards,
San Diego L. Rev.
Available at: https://digital.sandiego.edu/sdlr/vol40/iss4/18