Punitive damages in employment cases are meant to punish the errant employer and deter him as well as other employers from committing the same intentional and malicious discriminatory behavior. The 4th U.S. In other areas across the country, punitive damages are not allowed to exceed certain amounts, typically three times the amount awarded in compensatory damages. However, plaintiffs pursuing damages from a wrongful death claim may be entitled to an award of punitive damages if the defendant is convicted of felony murder. Ct. App. California Civil Code section 3294 provides the framework for recovery of punitive damages. Section 3294 expressly provides that punitive damages … California Civil Code Sections 3294 and 3295 control the standards by which punitive damages are awarded in California. A jury awarded the employee $300,000 in economic damages, $850,000 in non-economic damages, and a whopping $3.5 million in punitive damages for being terminated in violation of public policy and retaliation. This meets the requirements for an award of punitive damages under California law. Oct. 8, 2013). A plaintiff in California must prove through clear and convincing evidence that the defendant committed fraud, malice or oppression to obtain punitive damages. California Civil Code 3294 allows for the collection of punitive damages – also called exemplary damages – in addition to compensatory damages during some personal injury claims. Punitive Damages Against Employer or Principal for Conduct of a Specific Agent or Employee - Bifurcated Trial (First Phase) - Free Legal Information - Laws, Blogs, Legal Services and More The following employer conduct may merit the award of punitive damages: Indeed, punitive damages are not even appropriate in cases where the defendant was grossly negligent or otherwise exhibited reckless conduct. Civil Code § 3294(c). (E.g., Coulter, supra, p. A female construction worker who repeatedly complained about inadequate and unclean toilet facilities, and whose complaints were not addressed or remedied by her employer, could pursue her claim for punitive damages under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the California Court of Appeal has ruled. The allowance of punitive damages in such cases may well be appropriate because of another reason, namely, to deter similar future conduct, the "incalculable cost" of which is well documented. In such a scenario, punitive damages would be inappropriate because the defendant’s actions do not amount to malice, oppression or fraud. D062388 (Cal. Justia - California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) (2020) 3944. 154.) Not surprisingly, the employee couldn’t live up to the unrealistic performance plan and was later terminated. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed an award of punitive damages in a harassment case but left the compensatory damages award totaling $250,000 intact. We have been very successful in winning punitive damages in cases of reprehensible employer conduct and find that the very threat of a well-prepared punitive damages case can help in the settlement process. Lackner v. Davis v. Kiewit Pacific Co., No. Unlike other states, California does not place a limitation on how much can be awarded in punitive damages for a personal injury case. Punitive damages are generally prohibited in California wrongful death cases. 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