(Please note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this personal injury case and its proceedings.)
It is worth noting that situations similar to those described in this automobile accident case could just as easily involve any of the healthcare facilities in the area, such as Kaiser Permanente, U.C. Davis Medical Center, Mercy, or Sutter.
DR. BLACK’S RELIANCE ON CASES AFTER JUDGMENT OR VERDICT IS MISPLACED – PLAINTIFF NEED NOT PROVE THAT HE SHOULD BE AWARDED PUNITIVE DAMAGES AT THE PLEADINGS STAGE OF THE LITIGATION
Dr. Black relies on Ebaugh v. Rabkin, (1972) 22 Cal.App.3d 891, which is not applicable to plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint. Ebaugh concerned the reversal of a jury’s award of punitive damages because the evidence was insufficient to support the verdict for punitive damages against the employee and employer. There was also prejudicial error because one of the jury instructions permitted punitive damages against the employer if it found the employee was acting in a willful, reckless or wanton manner without regard to the employer’s conduct in directing or ratifying the employee’s actions. Id. at 895-896. Ebaugh does not apply to this stage of the litigation since it was an appeal of a jury verdict at trial. The standard for meeting the burden of proof to overturn a jury verdict is certainly different from the notice pleading requirements of California law. For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.
Dr. Black cites the following cases, all after judgment, verdict or nonsuit, which do not support granting her motion to strike since the cases do not concern the pleadings stage of litigation: American Airlines, Inc. v. Sheppard, Muffin, Richter & Hampton (2002) 96 Cal.App.4th 1017; Cloud v. Casey (1999) 76 Cal.App.4th 895; Tomaselli, 25 Cal.App.4th 1269; Mock v.-Michigan Millers Mutual Ins. Co. (1992) 4 Cal.App.4th 306; Roth, 185 Cal.App.2d 676; Fick, 98 Cal.App.2d 683; Spencer v. San Francisco Brick Co. (1907) 5 Cal.App. 127.
Since plaintiff is clearly entitled to seek punitive damages against Dr. Black under Cal. Civ. Code § 3294, and since Mr. Wong has pled facts sufficient to allege that Dr. Black acted in a manner that justifies a punitive damages award, defendant’s motion to strike both the punitive damages allegations and the prayer for punitive damages is not supported in law.
For the foregoing reasons, plaintiff respectfully requests that thecCourt deny defendant’s Motion to Strike Punitive Damages from plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint. Should the court he inclined to strike any portions of the complaint, plaintiff prays for leave to amend. The same liberal policy re amendment of pleadings applies as on sustaining demurrers. Weil & Brown, Civil Procedure Before Trial, § 7:203. Therefore, as long as the defect is correctable, an amended pleading will usually be allowed. Id. See also, Grieves v. Superior Court (1984) 157 Cal. App. 3d 159, 168 [relying on C.C.P § 576, which authorizes the court to allow amendment of pleadings at any time in furtherance of justice. ]
For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.