Suing for Punitive Damages in Tampa

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In Tampa, Florida, the civil litigation system is mainly concerned with compensating the victims of wrongdoing, rather than punishing the wrongdoers, or casting moral blame upon them.

This basic principle is subject to an significant exception, however. There are cases where a judge in Tampa, Florida will order a defendant to pay the plaintiff a sum of money which is not calculated based on actual harm the plaintiff has suffered. These are called "punitive damages" and serve the purpose of punishing and deterring wrongdoing.

Courts in Tampa, Florida do not authorize punitive damages in most cases. The civil litigation system is geared against authorizing financial windfalls to civil plaintiffs. But, there are rare cases, where the defendant has done something to the plaintiff that is so morally reprehensible, that society's interest in punishing the defendant and deterring comparable misconduct outweighs the civil justice system's preference against punitive damages.

Conduct that can give rise to punitive damages in Tampa, Florida

Mostly personal injury cases in Tampa, Florida do not involve punitive damages, because the defendant did not intend to cause harm, or act with some other form of malice. Instead, most of these cases involve situations where the defendant acted carelessly, but did not actually intend to cause harm. This is enough to award compensatory damages, but it is far from sufficient to award punitive damages in Tampa, Florida.

In Tampa, Florida, punitive damages are only awarded in extreme circumstances. Civil wrongs such as fraud, conversion (theft), battery, and other intentional, depraved acts are sufficient to award punitive damages. In deciding whether or not to award punitive damages, and how much money to award, courts in Tampa, Florida will consider many different factors. Usually, they employ a sliding scale, weighing the nature of the conduct and the actual harm that the conduct caused. The more immoral the conduct, and/or the more harm caused, the more likely a court is to award punitive damages.

There are limits on punitive damages in Tampa, Florida. The Supreme Court has held that punitive damage awards which are grossly disproportionate to the immorality of the conduct, and the harm that it caused, are an unconstitutional deprivation of property without due process of law.

A good rule of thumb for calculating the upper limit of punitive damages in Tampa, Florida is that punitive damages can be no larger than compensatory damages times ten. This rule is not absolute, of course. Courts in Florida have a good deal of discretion in awarding punitive damages, and will decide them based on the facts of each case. Because of this, punitive damage awards larger than 10 times compensatory damages are occasionally upheld, while much smaller awards have been overturned, because they were deemed excessive in a certain case.

How Can a Tampa, Florida Attorney Help?

Tampa, Florida's courts have wide discretion in awarding punitive damages. Therefore, it is impossible to comprehensively discuss all the situations in which punitive damages can arise.

If you are involved in a case in Tampa, Florida where punitive damages are a possibility, a very large amount of money could be at stake, whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. You should not delay to speak with a civil litigation attorney in Tampa, Florida

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Life in Tampa

Tampa is the seat of Hillsboro County, Florida. Tampa is home to nearly 350,000 residents including a number of professional athletes who play on local Tampa based teams. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers who won Super Bowl XXXVII champions in 2002 play at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa is also home to the Tampa Bay Lightning professional NHL hockey team. The only team claiming the "Tampa Bay" location that does not play within city limits is the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team who play in nearby St. Petersburg.

Downtown Tampa has been undergoing a revitalization project that started in 2007. Residential, hotel, and mixed use building have been constructed in an effort to revamp the downtown region and increase housing values. Rents have reduced and average of 4% in the United States but Tampa has only seen a 2% decrease. The discrepancy could be a result of the new downtown projects, however, Tampa offers outstanding transportation routes including railroad, high speed rail, sea ports, 3 nearby airports, and well maintained streets and highways.

The MacDill Air Force Base is home to the United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as well as an impressive fleet of cutting edge aircraft. Tampa residents and visitors frequent the annual air show that resumed after a 2002 and 2003 hiatus resulting from the 9/11 attacks.

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