In Timm v. Progressive Steel Treating, Inc., 137 F.3d 1008, 1010 (7th Cir. 1998), the court observed that the language of section 1981a does not condition an award of punitive damages on an underlying award of compensatory damages and "extrastatutory requirements for recovery should not be invented."
It reasoned that Title VII employment discrimination suits are controlled by the "federal common law of damages," which strives for uniformity when enforcing the Civil Rights Acts; and in suits under section 1983, punitive damages have been allowed to stand without an underlying compensatory damages award. Id.
The court also cited by analogy housing discrimination cases in which recovery of punitive damages has been permitted in favor of plaintiffs who experienced discrimination, but did not suffer actual loss.
The court held that it was sufficient for the plaintiff to produce evidence of "some injury." Timm, supra, 137 F.3d at 1010.