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in a 6-3 decision, the justices held that a punitive damages award of $145 million, where full compensatory damages are $1 million, is excessive and violates the due process clause of the 14th Amendment. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, No. 01-1289. According to the court, compensatory damages are intended to redress a plaintiff’s concrete loss, while punitive damages are aimed at deterrence and retribution. The due process clause prohibits the imposition of grossly excessive or arbitrary punishments. It should be presumed that a plaintiff’s injuries have been rectified by compensatory damages. Therefore, punitive damages should be awarded only if the defendant’s culpability is so reprehensible to warrant the imposition of further sanctions to achieve punishment or deterrence. Kennedy’s opinion was joined by Rehnquist, Stevens, O’Connor, Souter and Breyer. Scalia, Thomas and Ginsburg filed dissenting opinions.

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