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Triple (treble) damages are a tripling of an award in a lawsuit against a defendant who is subject to punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded when a defendant's conduct was malicious, or in reckless disregard of plaintiff's rights. Punitive damages are designed to deter such wrongful conduct by the defendant in the future, rather than compensate the plaintiff for a particular loss or injury. Such damages are an exception to the rule that damages are to compensate not to punish. Punitive damages are often awarded in cases of fraudulent acts by the defendant.
The amount of punitive damages awarded in within the discretion of the judge or the jury. The amount may be a particular sum or treble damages, which is a tripling of the other damages sought in the complaint. Punitive damages are sometimes called exemplary damages.