Punitive damages, or exemplary damages, can be assessed against a defendant to punish him or her and deter similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages are not designed to compensate the plaintiff. Under Missouri law, the judge will determine whether to submit the issue of punitive damages for the jury to consider. If the judge decides to allow the jury to consider punitive damages, the jury can assess the amount of that award.
Under Missouri law, punitive damages are unlike compensatory damages in that they require clear and convincing standard of proof. A jury cannot award punitive damages unless they find the defendant showed a complete indifference or conscious disregard for the safety and well being of others.
Missouri law provides that if punitive damages are awarded to a plaintiff, the State of
Missouri shall receive 50% of the assessed amount.
Missouri law permits a jury to consider the defendant’s net worth in deciding how much punitive damages to award. Missouri statute also allows for the punitive damage portion of the trial to be bifurcated or tried separately from the rest of the case.