Legal Memorandum: Award of Punitive Damages in AR

Issue: In Arkansas, when will punitive damages be awarded?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Punitive damages; Award
Jurisdiction: Arkansas
Cited Cases: 238 Ark. 776; 828 S.W.2d 584; 308 Ark. 74; 731 S.W.2d 194; 385 S.W.2d 154; 298 S.W. 1023; 633 S.W.2d 362; 823 S.W.2d 832; 454 So. 2d 1317; 175 Ark. 101; 899 S.W.2d 464; 922 S.W.2d 327
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 08/01/2000

It is well-settled Arkansas law that punitive damages are allowed against a defendant “where the evidence indicates that the defendant acted wantonly in causing the injury or with such conscious indifference to the consequences that malice may be inferred.”  Stein v. Lukas, 308 Ark. 74, 823 S.W.2d 832, 834 (1992) (holding that the court erred in refusing submission of punitive damages issue to the jury).  Accord J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc. v. Doss, 320 Ark. 660, 899 S.W.2d 464, 469(1995).  Circumstances in which malice may be inferred are those in which there is an element of willfulness or recklessness.  Stein, 823 S.W.2d at 834 (citing Dalrymple v. Fields, 276 Ark. 185, 188, 633 S.W.2d 362, 364 (1982) (quoting Hodges v. Smith, 175 Ark. 101, 298 S.W. 1023 (1927))).  “‘It is not necessary [for the plaintiff] to prove that the defendant deliberately intended to injure the plaintiff.  It is enough if it is shown that, indifferent to consequences the defendant intentionally acted in such a way that the natural and probable consequence of [the] act was injury to the plaintiff.'”  National By-Products, Inc. v. Searcy House Moving Co., 292 Ark. 491, 731 S.W.2d 194, 195-96 (1987) (quoting Ellis v. Ferguson, 238 Ark. 776, 385 S.W.2d 154 (1964)).  A punitive damages award is reviewed in the context of all the circumstances, including the enormity of the wrong, the defendant’s intent, and […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

To get the full-text of this Legal Memorandum ... and more!

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)