May 21, 2010

Rodriguez v. Daniel: $100,000 in Punitive Damages Reversed

Here's another unpublished opinion that reverses a punitive damages award because a plaintiff failed to present meaningful evidence of the defendant's financial condition.

The plaintiff argued that he met his burden because he introduced evidence about the profitability of the defendant's misconduct. The California Court of Appeal (Second District, Division Four) said that's not good enough; a plaintiff must provide evidence of the defendant's overall financial condition, including assets and liabilities. Because the plaintiff here didn't do that, he gets no punitive damages. He doesn't get a new trial because he failed to prove his case the first time around, and is not entitled to a second bite at the apple.

I've lost track of how many times we seen punitive damages get reversed for this reason since we started this blog. Without a doubt, this is most frequent basis for reversal of punitive damages in California.