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Striking punitive damages allegations in California

Striking punitive damages allegations in California is the topic of this blog post.  If a complaint includes only boilerplate and conclusory allegations in support of a request for punitive damages a motion to strike the punitive damages allegations and/or a prayer for punitive damages should be filed.

Code of Civil Procedure section 436 states in pertinent part that a motion to strike may be filed to strike any irrelevant matter inserted in any pleading, and to strike any pleading or part thereof not drawn in conformity with the laws of this state.

Code of Civil Procedure section 435(a) states in pertinent part that the pleadings at which a motion to strike may be directed include demurrers, answers, complaints, and cross complaints.

California law is settled that the mere allegation that an intentional tort was committed is not sufficient to warrant an award of punitive damages unless the complaint also contains factual allegations to support the claims of oppression, fraud or malice.

The statutory elements for punitive damages include allegations that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice. See Civil Code § 3294(a).

Malice is defined in the statute as conduct “intended by the defendant to cause jury 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.” See Civil Code § 3294(c)(1).

Oppression means “despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.” See Civil Code § 3294(c)(2).

Fraud is “an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.” See Civil Code § 3294(c)(3).

Another defect that occurs fairly often in complaints that include punitive damages allegations is where the plaintiff has stated the amount or amounts of punitive damages specifically requested. This is not authorized by California law as Civil Code section 3295(e) states that, “No claim for exemplary damages shall state an amount or amounts.” Therefore no amount of punitive damages that are sought should be included either in the body of the complaint or in the prayer. See Weil & Brown, Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2012) ¶ 6:292, p. 6-82, “[t]he rule prevents plaintiff from using exaggerated demands for punitive damages as a financial bludgeon or for publicity purposes

Attorneys or parties that would like to view a portion of a sample 11 page motion to strike punitive damages allegations in California containing brief instructions, a memorandum of points and authorities with citations to case law and statutory authority and proof of service by mail sold by the author can see below.

You can view portions of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation at http://www.scribd.com/LegalDocsPro

The author of this article, Stan Burman, is a freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995.

Follow the author on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/LegalDocsPro

View legal document packages for sale at: http://www.legaldocspro.com/downloads.aspx

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The author of this blog post, Stan Burman, is an entrepreneur and freelance paralegal who has worked in California and Federal litigation since 1995 and has created over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation.

*Do you want to use this article on your website, blog or e-zine? You can, as long as you include this blurb with it: “Stan Burman is the author of over 300 sample legal documents for California and Federal litigation and is the author of a free weekly legal newsletter. You can receive 10 free gifts just for subscribing. Just visit http://freeweeklylegalnewsletter.gr8.com/ for more information.

DISCLAIMER:

Please note that the author of this blog post, Stan Burman is NOT an attorney and as such is unable to provide any specific legal advice. The author is NOT engaged in providing any legal, financial, or other professional services, and any information contained in this blog post is NOT intended to constitute legal advice.

The materials and information contained in this blog post have been prepared by Stan Burman for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. Transmission of the information contained in this blog post is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any business relationship between the author and any readers. Readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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