Allen v. Simmons – Case Brief Summary (Rhode Island)

In Allen v. Simmons, 533 A.2d 541 (R.I. 1987), the Supreme Court determined that an insurer is not responsible for the punitive damages owed by the insured. Recalling that punitive damages serve to punish the offender, the Allen Court concluded that "common sense demands that the burden of satisfying a punitive damage award should remain with the wrongdoer and should not be cast upon the blameless shoulder of the other insureds." Id. at 544.

In Allen, the Supreme Court noted that to obtain punitive damages, one must provide "'evidence of such willfulness, recklessness or wickedness, on the part of the party at fault, as amounts to criminality, that for the good of society and warning to the individual, ought to be punished.'" Id. at 543.