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Be Careful What You Wish For: The Paradoxical Effects of Bifurcating Claims for Punitive Damages

... Among these were the effect of bifurcation on the size of damages awards, the reasons for judicial selection or rejection of the bifurcation option, and juror recognition of and reaction to the contingent "blindfolding" they experienced when important aspects of the case were kept from them until they made certain preliminary decisions. ... This variation allowed us to test the impact of deliberations, and to obtain independent individual juror impressions of the trial and evidence. ... The primary dependent measures were each juror's verdict on liability, compensatory damages, punitive liability, and punitive damages. ... On that form the juror indicated whether he or she favored awarding punitive damages and, if so, how much. Each time a juror indicated a verdict preference on compensatory damages, the juror also indicated how confident he or she was in that verdict. ... Because deliberating jurors assigned to the bifurcated trial saw the punitive damages evidence only if the jury found the defendant liable, and after they had deliberated as a group, the analysis of juror judgments regarding punitive liability and damages could be conducted only on the non-deliberating jurors. ... 4. juror comprehension of evidence and instructions ... Deliberations had only a limited effect on juror accuracy about factual matters (see Table 10). ... Whether a juror was in a unitary or bifurcated trial did not affect the accuracy of recall of evidence or instructions. ... When an audience is engaged in thinking about the content of evidence, persuasion is mediated by tacit pro- or counter-arguing by the audience. ...


Landsman, S., Diamond, S., Dimitropoulos, L., & Saks, MJ. (1998). Be Careful What You Wish For: The Paradoxical Effects of Bifurcating Claims for Punitive Damages. Wisconsin Law Review, 1998(1), 297-342.