February 2, 2011

Green v. Laibco: $1.2 million in punitive damages affirmed

In this published opinion, the California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Eight), affirms a punitive damages award of $1.2 million. There was only one appellate issue regarding the punitive damages award: whether the plaintiff met her burden of presenting meaningful evidence of the defendant’s financial condition. The plaintiff presented evidence that the defendant earned a profit of $670,000 in the most recent 12-month period, and was "in the black" (although the actual amount of net worth was unspecified). The court said this evidence was sufficient to sustain the award, considering that the defendant had delayed in responding to discovery requests for financial information, and the defendant’s CEO was unable to personally calculate the defendant’s actual net worth.

Full disclosure: Horvitz & Levy represents the defendant in this appeal, and we will not comment on the opinion because the litigation is ongoing.