This appears to be a direct quote from PACIFIC MUTUAL LIFE INSURANCE CO. v. HASLIP, et al., March 4, 1991, but there is no attribution. PACIFIC says:
"Punitive damages have long been a part of traditional state tort law." Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U.S. 238, 255 (1984). Blackstone appears to have noted their use. 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *137-*138. See also Wilkes v. Wood, 98 Eng. Rep. 489 (C. P. 1763) (The Lord Chief Justice validating exemplary damages as compensation, punishment, and deterrence). Among the first reported American cases are Genay v. Norris, 1 S. C. L. (1 Bay) 6 (1784), and Coryell v. Colbaugh, 1 N. J. L. 77 (1791). [n.5] Under the traditional common law approach, the amount of the punitive award is initially determined by a jury instructed to consider the gravity of the wrong and the need to deter similar wrongful conduct. The jury's determination is then reviewed by trial and appellate courts to ensure that it is reasonable.
This Conservapedia article says:
- Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U.S. 238, 255 (1984).
- 3 W. Blackstone, Commentaries *137-*138.
- For informative historical comment, see Owen, Punitive Damages in Products Liability Litigation, 74 Mich. L. Rev. 1257, 1262-1264, and nn. 17-23 (1976).