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Punitives' history

John Steele Gordon comments at American Heritage:

Tort lawyers argue that punitive damages give them an incentive to police the marketplace and go after wrongdoers. In other words, it enables them to act like the privateers of old, when governments at war granted citizens licenses (called letters of marque) to attack enemy shipping and keep the ships and goods successfully attacked. The trouble with privateers, of course, was that they had a very bad habit of turning into pirates. The same can be said of all too many tort lawyers, thanks to punitive damages.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.