Can I Get Punitive Damages?
When people have been damaged by a wrongdoing party they often ask “Can I get punitive damages?” Or some people say, “They should be punished for what they did…I want to get punitive damages!” These are common feelings and can be a major category of damages sought in a lawsuit. Let's take a review of the law and how it might apply to your case.
Punitive Damages In Wisconsin
Many of the statute that protect consumers contain provisions for punitive damages. For example, violations of the Wisconsin Consumer Act allow for punitive damages. The law specifically states, “Recoveries under chs. 421 to 427 shall not in themselves preclude the award of punitive damages in appropriate cases.” See Wis. Stat. § 425.301(1). This section of the law is found in the general introduction of damages under the Wisconsin Consumer Act, which also states, “The remedies provided by this subchapter shall be liberally administered to the end that the customer as the aggrieved party shall be put in at least as good a position as if the creditor had fully complied with chs. 421 to 427.”
However, some laws (like the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act) do not have a provision for punitive damages, and therefore consumers are not able to seek that category of damages from the courts.
What Kind Of Conduct Deserves Punitive Damages?
Punitive damages are a specific category of damages that can be requested from the court and later awarded by the jury. The law (in something called a jury instruction) provides a very specific standard, specifically that the offending party “acted maliciously toward the Plaintiff or in an intentional disregard of the rights.” It further states the following:
A persons acts are malicious when they are the result of hatred, ill will, desire for revenge, or inflicted under circumstances where insult or injury is intended. A person acts in an intentional disregard of the rights of the Plaintiff if the person acts with the purpose to disregard the Plaintiffs rights, or is aware that his or her acts are substantially certain to result in the Plaintiffs rights being disregarded. Before you can find an intentional disregard of the rights of the Plaintiff, you must be satisfied that the defendant's act or course of conduct was:
(2) an actual disregard of the Plaintiff's right to safety, health, or life, a property right, or some other right; and
(3) sufficiently aggravated to warrant punishment by punitive damages.
However, there is no requirement that the offending party sought to cause harm or injury. The “goal” of punitive damages is to punish the wrongdoing party and/or deter other persons or businesses from engaging in similar conduct.
Can I Get Punitive Damages?
Part of that will depend on what occurred, along with the specific actions and circumstances surrounding the actions of the wrongdoer. Attorney DeLadurantey is very familiar with cases involving punitive damages, including his verdict for $300,000 in punitive damages for an illegal repossession.
How Can I Find Out More About Punitive Damages?
This is why we offer free consultations – we're here to discuss your situation and how the law may operate to make things right.
During our initial consult, we'll go over a few items:
- The specifics of your situation
- What laws exist to protect your rights
- The damages (including punitive damages) that might be available
Will this Cost Me Anything?
We provide representation in cases involving punitive damages in Wisconsin, including Racine, Kenosha, Green Bay, Appleton, the Fox Valley, Milwaukee, West Allis, Waukesha, Walworth County, Dane County, Madison, La Crosse, Eau Claire, Superior, Ashland, and anywhere in-between.