Compensating plaintiffs and punishing defendants: Is bifurcation necessary? Article

Greene, E, Woody, WD, Winter, R. (2000). Compensating plaintiffs and punishing defendants: Is bifurcation necessary? . LAW AND HUMAN BEHAVIOR, 24(2), 187-205. 10.1023/A:1005458919344

cited authors

  • Greene, E; Woody, WD; Winter, R


  • Critics of the civil jury have proposed several procedural reforms to address the concern that damage awards are capricious and unpredictable. One such reform is the bifurcation or separation of various phases of a trial that involves multiple claims for damages. The purpose of this study was to assess the effects of bifurcating the compensatory and punitive damages phases of a civil tort trial. We manipulated the wealth of the defendant and the reprehensibility of the defendant's conduct (both sets of evidence theoretically related to punitive but not to compensatory damages) across three cases in a jury analog study. We wondered whether jurors would misuse the punitive damages evidence in fixing compensatory damages and whether bifurcation would effectively undo this practice. Our findings indicated that mock jurors did not improperly consider punitive damages evidence in their decisions about compensation. Moreover, bifurcation had the unexpected effect of augmenting punitive damage awards. These findings raise questions about the merits of bifurcation in cases that involve multiple claims for damages.

publication date

  • May 15, 2000

published in

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

start page

  • 187

end page

  • 205


  • 24


  • 2