January 30, 2011

Another year, another proposal to cap punitive damages in California

Stop me if you've heard this one before:  a California lawmaker has introduced a bill to limit punitive damages.  AB 157, introduced by assembly member Linda Halderman (R-Fresno), would cap punitive damages in California at three times the amount of compensatory damages.

The bill would also eliminate punitive damages in products liability cases in which the defendant could establish that its product was in compliance with applicable regulations.  

Oh, and one more little thing.  It would put a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in all negligence cases (i.e., it would expand the MICRA limit on nonecomonic damages to all cases).

If this sounds familiar, that's because it's essentially the same as a bill Assemblyman Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks) introduced last year (AB X8 40).  That bill failed to get past the Assembly Judiciary Committee.  A similar bill was rejected by the Senate Judiciary committee in 2008.

You can track the status of the bill here, but I think you all have a pretty good idea how this sequel is going to end.  California is not Wisconsin.

UPDATE:  The proposal is actually AB 158, and it can be tracked here.