August 15, 2013

Unpublished opinion reverses order granting summary adjudication of punitive damages claim (Smith v. Superior Court)

In the five-plus years since we started this blog, we've rarely seen the Court of Appeal grant a writ petition to overturn an order granting summary adjudication on punitive damages.  Maybe never.  Until now, that is.

In this unpublished opinion, the California Court of Appeal (Fourth Appellate District, Division Two) grants a plaintiff's writ petition and reverses a grant summary of adjudication for the defense on the plaintiff's claim for punitive damages.  The opinion states that the defendants failed to meet their burden of demonstrating a lack of evidence supporting the plaintiff's claim.  The defendants "made no effort to identify the facts upon which plaintiffs are relying to substantiate their claim for punitive damages."  The court suggested that the defendants could have used the plaintiff's discovery responses or admissions by the plaintiff to show what plaintiff was relying on, but having cited no such evidence, the defendant was not entitled to summary adjudication. 

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