punitive damages

plural noun

Definition of punitive damages

: damages awarded in excess of compensation to the plaintiff to punish a defendant for a serious wrong

Examples of punitive damages in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Sherman’s lawyer Christina Stephenson said Sherman will seek economic damages for lost income and benefits, as well as emotional distress and punitive damages. oregonlive, "Domestic violence survivor plans to sue Clackamas County for retaliation over her abuse by jail deputy," 19 Dec. 2020 Agandi had sought a judgment of $2,670 in back pay on top of $27,379 in punitive damages, according to the lawsuit. Taylor Deville, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore County Del. Jay Jalisi ordered to pay over $19,500, including wages never paid, to ex-employee," 23 Dec. 2020 Lawyers, including Mones, later pressed to release some of those files in a case in Oregon, where a 2010 jury verdict held the Scouts liable for $18.5 million in punitive damages. Mike Baker New York Times, Star Tribune, "Sex-abuse claims against Boy Scouts now surpass 82,000," 15 Nov. 2020 Instead, Evans and family are asking for a jury to determine compensatory and punitive damages should the case go to trial. Paul Walsh, Star Tribune, "Lake Elmo man's family files wrongful-death suit against deputy acquitted of manslaughter," 9 Dec. 2020 Examples include the July 2018 award of $550 million in actual damages and $4.14 billion in punitive damages to 22 plaintiffs who claimed their ovarian cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos allegedly found in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. John Haughey, Washington Examiner, "St. Louis is nation’s seventh-worst ‘judicial hellhole’: Report," 9 Dec. 2020 But a jury decided in Coleman’s favor and awarded him $35,000 in punitive damages. Shannon Heffernan, ProPublica, "The Way Prisoners Flag Guard Abuse, Inadequate Health Care and Unsanitary Conditions Is Broken," 2 Dec. 2020 Mac Isaac is demanding $500 million in punitive damages as well as unspecified compensatory damages and lawyers’ fees. Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Computer repair shop owner sues Twitter for defamation over handling of Hunter Biden story," 28 Dec. 2020 Also unlike the United States, where plaintiffs can win multimillion-dollar settlements or jury awards including punitive damages, Israel’s civil courts provide only a weak backstop. New York Times, "An Autistic Man Is Killed, Exposing Israel’s Festering Police Brutality Problem," 7 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'punitive damages.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of punitive damages

1858, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about punitive damages

Time Traveler for punitive damages

Time Traveler

The first known use of punitive damages was in 1858

See more words from the same year

Statistics for punitive damages

Last Updated

24 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Punitive damages.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punitive%20damages. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for punitive damages

punitive damages

Legal Definition of punitive damages

— see damage sense 2

More from Merriam-Webster on punitive damages

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for punitive damages

Comments on punitive damages

What made you want to look up punitive damages? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!