June 28, 2011

Rex Heeseman op-ed discusses Behr v. Redmond

Rex Heeseman, an L.A. County Superior Court judge who has written a series of op-eds for the Daily Journal on punitive damages and insurance law, has an op-ed in today's Daily Journal (subscription required) discussing the Behr v. Redmond case. 

Judge Heeseman's op-ed concludes with a discussion about appellate strategy for defendants facing the issues raised in Behr.  He suggests that when a defendant appeals from a large compensatory damages award and a relatively smaller punitive damages award, and the defendant challenges the amount of the compensatory damages award, the defendant should also argue that the punitive damages are excessive when compared to the compensatory award after the expected reduction on appeal (assuming the defendant can predict how much the reduction will be).  He also suggests that defense counsel should not ask for a retrial of the punitive damages award, but should ask the appellate court to simply reduce the amount of punitive damages without a remand.  He doesn't get into the split of authority that was the subject of the petition for review, but he observes that the trend of recent cases is to resolve the final amount of punitive damages at the appellate level without further trial proceedings. 

Related posts:

Two out of three ain't bad: Supreme Court denies review in Behr v. Richmond, despite my prediction that they'd take the case

Petition for review asks Cal. Supreme Court to resolve split in authority regarding the proper treatment of a punitive damages award after reduction of compensatories

Behr v. Redmond: Court of Appeal publishes previously unpublished opinion, creates split of authority

Behr v. Redmond: $2.8M punitive award affirmed, despite reduction of compensatory damages from $4M to $1.6M