Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the plaintiff (but they do!!!): they are designed to punish the defendant if the jury believes their conduct merits a penalty beyond simply the economic loss involved. Unfortunately, this has caused too many juries to…. well, you decide. Are punitive damages a problem? And please keep in mind that plaintiff’s attorneys receive 1/3 of the punitive damages. Yet this raises the issue of whether some plaintiffs receive windfalls while others receive nothing. For example, in BMW, Inc. v Gore (Ala 1994)646 So2d 619, a man sued because the brand new car he purchased had been partially repainted to cover damage caused while it was being shipped to the dealer. The jury awarded him $4 million in punitive damages. The Alabama Supreme Court later reduced the punitive damages to a more “constitutionally reasonable” $2 million, noting that in a case virtually identical to plaintiff’s, another had received no punitive damages. 646 So2d at 626.