Punitive Damages Sought By Sacramento Auto Accident Victim, Part 7 of 11

The following blog entry is written to illustrate a common motion filed during civil litigation. Reviewing this kind of filing should help potential plaintiffs and clients better understand how parties in personal injury cases present such issues to the court.

(Please also note: the names and locations of all parties have been changed to protect the confidentiality of the participants in this automobile accident lawsuit and its proceedings.)

PLAINTIFF HAS PLED SUFFICIENT FACTS TO ESTABLISH THAT DR. LEE’S CONDUCT WAS DESPICABLE AND WITH A WILLFUL AND CONSCIOUS DISREGARD FOR THE SAFETY OF PLAINTIFF

Plaintiff seeks punitive damages against Dr. Lee pursuant to Civil Code Section 3294, which states in pertinent part:

(a) In an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud, or malice, the plaintiff, in addition to the actual damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant.

(c)(1) “Malice” means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.

(c)(2) “Oppression” means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

As established above, under California’s notice pleading requirement, Plaintiff only has to plead “ultimate facts” sufficient to apprise Defendant of the basis upon which Plaintiff is seeking relief.

Here, Plaintiff has sufficiently alleged that Dr. Lee’s actions fit within the meaning of C.C. ยง 3294. In unambiguous language, Plaintiff has described Dr. Lee’s actions in paragraphs 14, 15, 29-32, 37-39 and 42, of the First Amended Complaint that amount to malice and oppression, i.e., despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others. As the Court stated in Dyna-Med, Inc. v. Fair Employment & Housing Com. (1987) 43 Cal.3d 1379, 1392, … the award of exemplary damages [is given] only when the defendant has been guilty of “oppression, fraud, or malice.” Plaintiff’s allegations against Dr. Lee support an award in favor of the Plaintiff for exemplary damages. (See Part 8 of 11.)

For more information you are welcome to contact Sacramento personal injury lawyer, Moseley Collins.

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