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Defending Punitive Damages Cases and Preventing Runaway Awards: New Approaches

Recording of a 90-minute CLE video webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Recorded event now available

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This CLE course will discuss how to give the jury reasons not to award punitive damages even if it ultimately decides the client caused the alleged harm and should compensate the plaintiff. The panel will discuss important pre-trial considerations, legal protections available to the defendant, and crucial decisions to be addressed at trial. The panel will also discuss using Federal Rule of Evidence 407 to counter the plaintiff's perennial "send a message" theme.


Runaway punitive damages awards continue to demonstrate that traditional defense strategies can fail against increasingly sophisticated arguments from the plaintiffs' bar. Getting the claim dismissed on summary judgment or arguing that the plaintiff failed to prove the necessary level of culpability may be tools but often fail as stand-alone strategies.

Radically different approaches are needed. Counsel must develop a comprehensive strategy, including affirmatively telling the defendant's story.

Defendants are finding success in invoking FRE 407 and arguing that subsequent changes have made punitive damages unnecessary. This approach may be instrumental in a variety of tort cases, including trucking and motor carrier cases.

Listen as the panel shares defense strategies for proactively establishing the facts necessary to show that the defendant acted in good faith and to counter arguments by plaintiffs that punishment is needed.



  1. Finding and telling the defendant's story
    1. Focusing on the "why" of the defendant's actions
    2. Countering plaintiff's likely strategies and themes
  2. Deciding whether to bifurcate
  3. Strategic use of pretrial motions and objections
  4. Building the defense with jury selection, jury instructions, and anchoring
  5. Using appellate and punitive damages experts
  6. Introducing subsequent remedial measures under FRE 407


The panel will review these and other issues:

  • Why do motions to dismiss or for summary judgment usually fail?
  • How can defense counsel give the jury a reason not to award punitive damages?
  • Why must defense counsel, when punitive damages are alleged, think like a plaintiff's lawyer?
  • How can anchoring be used effectively?
  • How can counsel use FRE 407 to show that punitive damages are unnecessary?


Daniel, Laurie Webb
Laurie Webb Daniel

Webb Daniel Friedlander

Ms. Daniel is a partner at the appellate boutique, Webb Daniel Friedlander LLP, based in Atlanta but with a national...  |  Read More

Lehman, Kathryn
Kathryn S. Lehman

King & Spalding

Ms. Lehman is a member of the Tort Litigation and Environmental Group. She has experience in individual plaintiff...  |  Read More

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