Legal Memorandum: Exemplary Damages Standard in WY

Issue: Under Wyoming law, what is the standard for exemplary damages?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: Exemplary damages; Wrongful death cases; Wanton and willful misconduct
Jurisdiction: Wyoming
Cited Cases: 421 P.2d 957; 199 N.W.2d 362; 371 P.2d 422; 616 P.2d 765; 593 P.2d 187
Cited Statutes: Wyo. Stat. § 1-38-102; Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-20-101(1)
Date: 02/01/2001

           Unlike some other states,*FN1 Wyoming by statute provides that in an appropriate case an estate may recover exemplary damages for decedents’ wrongful death.  Wyo. Stat. § 1-38-102 (1988).  The standard for exemplary damages in wrongful death cases is the same as in other lawsuits:  the plaintiff bears the burden of showing that the defendant acted with wanton and willful misconduct.

Willful and wanton misconduct is that which tends to take on the aspect of highly unreasonable conduct, or an extreme departure from ordinary care, in a situation where a high degree of danger is apparent.  It is not with the intent to cause injury or damage, but it must be more than mere mistake resulting from inexperience, excitement or confusion, and more than mere thoughtlessness or inadventure, or simple inattention.  An intentional omission to perform a statutory duty is not willful or wanton misconduct, unless a reasonable man in the actor’s place would have been aware of great danger, and proceeded in face of it so entirely unreasonably as to evidence a knowledge, express or implied, that injury will be a probable result.


Danculovich v. Brown, 593 P.2d 187, 191 […]

Subscribe to Litigation Pathfinder

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

(Month-to-month and annual subscriptions available)