It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this medical malpractice case could just as easily occur at any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, U.C. Davis Medical Center, Mercy, Sutter, or any skilled nursing facility.
(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this wrongful death case and its proceedings.)
PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE ELDER ABUSE CAUSE OF ACTION IS SUFFICIENTLY PLED
CCP §425.11 is inapplicable to an elder abuse cause of action.
XYZ’s claim that Plaintiff must comply with Code of Civil Procedure §425.13 which requires that a plaintiff seek court permission to state a punitive damage claim in a medical malpractice cause of action, was held five years ago by the California Supreme Court as inapplicable in elder abuse causes of action. Covenant Care, Inc. v. Superior Court, (2004) 32 Cal.4th 771, 790. Plaintiff has not alleged punitive damages in his second or third causes of action.
PLAINTIFF HAS ALLEGED SUFFICIENT FACTS OF CONDUCT BY XYZ EMPLOYEES, MANAGING AGENTS AND RATIFICATION TO SUSTAIN THE CLAIM FOR PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN THE ELDER ABUSE CAUSE OF ACTION AND THE MOTION TO STRIKE MUST BE DENIED.
XYZ argues that plaintiff has not stated sufficient facts of punitive damages. The facts to support the reckless neglect of Mr. Lee and his rights while under XYZ’s care are also sufficient to state this claim of punitive damages in the elder abuse cause of action. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
Pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code §3294(b) Plaintiff is entitled to punitive damages in that Defendant authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct for which Plaintiff seeks to recover. [White v. Ultramar, Inc. (1999) 21 Cal. 4th 563, 577].
A corporate employer may be liable for punitive damages for the acts of its agents if the corporate employer has authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct [College Hospital, Inc. v. Superior Court (1994) 8 Cal.4th 704]. The word, ratify means to approve and sanction; to make valid; to confirm; to give sanction to; to authorize or otherwise approve conduct retroactively, either expressly or by implication. Black’s Law Dictionary (6th ed. 1990) p. 1262, col. 1].
“Ratification” … may be established by any circumstantial or direct evidence demonstrating adoption or approval of the employee’s actions by the corporate agent. Such ratification may be inferred from the fact that the employer, after being informed of the employee’s actions, does not fully investigate and fails to repudiate the employee’s conduct by redressing the harm done and punishing or discharging the employee. (citation). (Fisher v. San Pedro Peninsula Hospital (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 590, 621.)
The pattern of violating Mr. Lee’s strict dietary instructions and failing to reposition him which resulted in his developing serious bedsores, continued over 39 days. These facts of a pattern are sufficient to support the inference of ratification – that the managing staff, at least, ratified this pattern of abuse by its staff during the 39 days Mr. Lee was under its care. In addition to the sufficient facts that support the inference of ratification, plaintiff also sets forth facts that XYZ’s managing agents ratified and approved this egregious conduct in conscious disregard of plaintiff’s rights. (See Part 8 of 9.)
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.