February 26, 2009

Bregante v. Steinberg: Unpublished Opinion Affirms Trial Court's Decision Not to Award Punitive Damages

The California Court of Appeal (Sixth District) issued this unpublished opinion affirming a trial court's decision not to award punitive damages after a bench trial.

In affirming the trial court's decision, the Court of Appeal noted that, under California law, "even where the plaintiff prevails in a case where punitive damages are permissible, the plaintiff 'is never entitled to them. The granting or withholding of the award of punitive damages is wholly within the control of the [the trier of fact]....'" (Citing Brewer v. Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles (1948) 32 Cal.2d 791, 801.)