July 27, 2012

$44 million punitive damages award reversed in unpublished opinion (VW Credit v. Keuylian)

In California, two recurring scenarios appear in the unpublished opinions on punitive damages: (1) the court reverses a punitive damages award because the plaintiff obtained a default judgment but did not provide the defendant with adequate notice of the amount of punitive damages the plaintiff was seeking, or (2) the court reverses a punitive damages award because plaintiff failed to introduce meaningful evidence of the defendant's financial condition.

In this unpublished opinion from the Fourth Appellate District, Division Three, we have a twofer: the plaintiff provided insufficient notice of the amount it was seeking by default and failed to introduce meaningful evidence of the defendant's financial condition.  The $44 million punitive damages award in this case never had a chance.