Wisconsin Statutes Miscellaneous Actions, Proceedings and Procedure (Ch. 895 to 900) § 895.043. Punitive damages

(1) Definitions.  In this section:

(a) “Defendant” means the party against whom punitive damages are sought.

(b) “Double damages” means those court awards made under a statute providing for twice, 2 times or double the amount of damages suffered by the injured party.

(c) “Plaintiff” means the party seeking to recover punitive damages.

(d) “Treble damages” means those court awards made under a statute providing for 3 times or treble the amount of damages suffered by the injured party.

(2) Scope.  This section does not apply to awards of double damages or treble damages, or to the award of exemplary damages under ss. 46.90(9)(a) and (b) , 51.30(9) , 51.61(7) , 55.043(9m)(a) and (b) , 103.96(2) , 134.93(5) , 146.84(1)(b) and (bm) , 153.76, 252.14(4), 252.15(8)(a), 610.70(7)(b), 943.245(2) and (3) and 943.51(2) and (3).

(3) Standard of conduct.  The plaintiff may receive punitive damages if evidence is submitted showing that the defendant acted maliciously toward the plaintiff or in an intentional disregard of the rights of the plaintiff.

(4) Procedure.  If the plaintiff establishes a prima facie case for the allowance of punitive damages:

(a) The plaintiff may introduce evidence of the wealth of a defendant;  and

(b) The judge shall submit to the jury a special verdict as to punitive damages or, if the case is tried to the court, the judge shall issue a special verdict as to punitive damages.

(5) Application of joint and several liability.  The rule of joint and several liability does not apply to punitive damages.

(6) Limitation on damages.  Punitive damages received by the plaintiff may not exceed twice the amount of any compensatory damages recovered by the plaintiff or $200,000, whichever is greater.  This subsection does not apply to a plaintiff seeking punitive damages from a defendant whose actions under sub. (3) included the operation of a vehicle, including a motor vehicle as defined under s. 340.01(35) , an off-highway motorcycle, as defined in s. 23.335(1)(q) , a snowmobile as defined under s. 340.01(58a) , an all-terrain vehicle as defined under s. 340.01(2g) , a utility terrain vehicle as defined under s. 23.33(1)(ng) , and a boat as defined under s. 30.50(2) , while under the influence of an intoxicant to a degree that rendered the defendant incapable of safe operation of the vehicle.  In this subsection, “intoxicant” has the meaning given in s. 30.50(4e) .


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