March 23, 2016

"When tort defendants die, should any punitive damages claim die with them?"

Eugene Volokh reports about an interesting Ohio Supreme Court decision that permits a plaintiff to seek punitive damages from the estate of a deceased tortfeasor. 

Unlike Ohio, California follows the majority rule, i.e., no punitive damages against dead people.  (See Code of Civil Procedure section 377.42.)  However, California law does permit judgment creditors to enforce a punitive damages judgment against the estate of a tortfeasor who dies after entry of judgment.  The plaintiff's claim for punitive damages is extinguished only if the debtor dies before judgment is entered.

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