August 15, 2013

Paul Hastings knocks out punitive damages claim in malpractice case (Paul Hastings v. Superior Court)

Earlier today we reported on a rare instance of the California Court of Appeal issuing a writ petition to reinstate a plaintiff's punitive damages claim.  Here's another writ proceeding on punitive damages, with the opposite result.    

This is a malpractice case against law firm Paul Hastings.  Paul Hastings filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the claim is meritless because the plaintiff prevailed in the underlying case.  When the trial court denied that motion, Paul Hastings filed a writ petition with the Court of Appeal.

The California Court of Appeal (Second Appellate District, Division Four) issued this unpublished opinion, declining to throw out the entire case, but agreeing that Paul Hastings is entitled to summary adjudication on the issue of punitive damages.  The court said the plaintiffs identified evidence that might support claims of legal malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty, "but do not rise to the level of extreme indifference to the client's interests which would support an award of punitive damages."