Liberal Compensatory Damages in New Hampshire
New Hampshire permits the application of "liberal compensatory damages" or "enhanced compensatory damages" in very limited circumstances. Specifically, New Hampshire courts require that these damages be applied only "'where the acts complained of were wanton, malicious, or oppressive, [and] the compensatory damages for the resulting actual material loss can be increased to compensate for the vexation and distress caused the plaintiff by the character of defendant's conduct.'" Crowley v. Global Realty, 124 N.H. 814, 819, 474 A.2d 1056 (N.H. 1984) (citing Vratsenes v. N.H. Auto, Inc., 112 N.H. 71, 72, 289 A.2d 66, 67 (N.H. 1972)).
In Aubert v. Aubert, 129 N.H. 422, 431, 529 A.2d 909, 915 (N.H. 1987), the New Hampshire Supreme Court refined this definition by stating: "the mere fact that an intentional tort is involved is not sufficient; there must be 'ill will, hatred, hostility, or evil motive on the part of the defendant.'" Id. (citing Munson v. Raudonis, 118 N.H. 474, 479, 387 A.2d 1174, 1177 (1978)).
In that case, the defendant shot her husband in the face at close range. The evidence presented in Aubert clearly substantiated a finding of ill-will because her mens rea was established in the criminal proceeding. Id. at 431, 529 A.2d 915. (finding "the defendant deliberately and with premeditation fired a .38 caliber hollow point bullet into the plaintiff's face").