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Commercial Law Litigation Products Liability

He, Cuevas, and the Law of Remittitur in New Jersey

Despite the established purpose of a compensatory damage award, there are occasions when a verdict is so excessive it could only have been arrived at in an effort to punish, rather than to compensate. In those instances of a "runaway" jury award, there are two generally recognized forms of relief available to address the excessive verdict: a new trial as to damages only, or remittitur.

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It is well accepted and recognized by New Jersey’s courts that compensatory damages should encompass no more than the amount that will make a plaintiff whole, which is the actual loss. Fair compensatory damages should neither reward a plaintiff nor punish a defendant, but should be commensurate with a plaintiff’s loss. Caldwell v. Hayes, 136 N.J. 422, 433 (1994). Despite the established purpose of a compensatory damage award, there are occasions when a verdict is so excessive it could only have been arrived at in an effort to punish, rather than to compensate. In those instances of a “runaway” jury award, there are two generally recognized forms of relief available to address the excessive verdict: a new trial as to damages only, or remittitur.

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