February 10, 2010

California Supreme Court Grants Review in Case Involving Assignability of Punitive Damages

Last November we discussed the Court of Appeal's decision in Nelson v. Exxon Mobil, holding that claims for punitive damages are assingable, at least when those claims arise from harm to real property. We observed that the case "could be headed to the California Supreme Court," because the Court of Appeal's opinion seems to conflict with other opinions indicating that punitive damages claims are categorically unassignable. Sure enough, the California Supreme Court has granted review. (See the court's online docket.)

Justices Chin and Baxter recused themselves, presumably because they own Exxon stock. That means the outcome in this case may be depend in large part on the identify of the two Court of Appeal justices who get assigned to replace them.