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Original Creator: Pam Karlan Current Version: Pam Karlan Show/Hide

And so we come to the final element of a tort claim: proof of damages. According to ยง 901 of the Restatement (Second) of Torts, tort actions have four purposes: “(a) to give compensation, indemnity, or restitution for harms; (b) to determine rights;©to punish wrongdoers and deter wrongful conduct; and (d) to vindicate parties and deter retaliation or violent and unlawful self-help.”

In this class, we will focus on monetary damages. But it is important to understand that for some torts, there are other remedies available — in particular, equitable remedies. These remedies play an especially important role in cases involving “constitutional torts.” (Indeed, qualified immunity may often rule out retrospective damages awards.)

We will examine the two primary forms of monetary damages — compensatory damages, which are designed to respond to the loss suffered by the plaintiff, and punitive damages, which are designed to punish the defendant. (There is a third category of money damages — nominal damages, which function mainly as a symbol that a plaintiff who cannot prove damages has nonetheless been wronged.) Compensatory damages can, in turn, be subdivided into (1) compensatory damages for economic loss or pecuniary harm (for example, medical expenses, lost income, property damage) and (2) compensatory damages for non-economic or non-pecuniary harms (for example, pain and suffering or loss of consortium).


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  1. 1 Show/Hide More Greyhound Lines, Inc. v. Sutton
    Original Creator: Jonathan Zittrain Current Version: Pam Karlan
    How should courts calculate the pecuniary “loss” of children who are wrongfully killed?
  2. 2 Show/Hide More Arambula v. Wells
    Original Creator: Pam Karlan Current Version: Pam Karlan
  3. 3 Show/Hide More Martha Chamallas & Jennifer B. Wriggins, The Measure of Injury: Race, Gender, and Tort Law (2010)
    Chapter 6 focuses on damages and considers the question of how damages doctrine and the ways it interacts with the race and sex of tort victims serves the various goals of tort law.
  4. 4 Show/Hide More James v. United States
    Original Creator: Pam Karlan Current Version: Pam Karlan
  5. 5 Show/Hide More Evers v. Dollinger
    Original Creator: Pam Karlan Current Version: Pam Karlan
  6. 8 Show/Hide More Forrestal v. Magendantz
    Original Creator: Pam Karlan Current Version: Pam Karlan

Playlist Information

July 20, 2015

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Pam Karlan

Professor of Law

Stanford Law School

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