Punitive Damages Reform: H. 3775 (2011).
Establishes procedure to claim punitive damages: (1) plaintiff must specifically
Establishes procedure to claim punitive damages: (1) plaintiff must specifically plead for punitive damages in the complaint but may not specify an amount; and (2) bifurcated process to determine punitive damages. Punitive damages are only awarded if plaintiff proves by clear and convincing evidence that harm was the result of defendant’s willful, wanton, or reckless conduct. In second state of the bifurcated trial, jury determines if defendant liable for punitive damages, and amount, if applicable. The factors for jury to consider in determining the amount of punitive damages: • Defendant’s degree of culpability; • Severity of the harm caused by the defendant; • Extent to which the plaintiffs own conduct contributed to harm; • Duration of the conduct, the defendant’s awareness, and any concealment; • Similar past conduct; • Profitability of the conduct to the defendant; • Defendant’s ability to pay; • Likelihood the award will deter the defendant or others from like conduct; • Awards of punitive damages against the defendant for same act or course of conduct; • Criminal penalties against defendant for same act or course of conduct; • Civil fines against defendant for same act or course of conduct. Award must be specific to each defendant, and each defendant is liable only for the amount made against him or her. With respect to limitations, these limitations cannot be disclosed to the jury. If the jury returns a verdict that exceeds these limits, the court shall enter judgment for the maximum amount allowed for under this statute. First Limitation: punitive damages award may not exceed the greater of three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000. Second Limitations: punitive damages must not exceed the greater of four times the amount of compensatory damages or $2 million dollars if: (1) the wrongful conduct proven under this section was motivated primarily by unreasonable financial gain and determines that the unreasonably dangerous nature of the conduct, together with the high likelihood of injury resulting from the conduct, was known or approved by the managing agent, director, officer, or the person responsible for making policy decisions on behalf of the defendant; or (2) the defendant’s actions could subject the defendant to conviction of a felony and that act or course of conduct is a proximate cause of the plaintiffs damages Limitations on punitive damages are not applied if: (1) at the time of injury the defendant had an intent to harm and determines that the defendant’s conduct did in fact harm the claimant; or (2) the defendant has pled guilty to or been convicted of a felony arising out of the same act or course of conduct complained of by the plaintiff and that act or course of conduct is a proximate cause of the plaintiffs damages; or (3) the defendant acted or failed to act while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, other than lawfully prescribed drugs administered in accordance with a prescription, or any intentionally consumed glue, aerosol, or other toxic vapor to the degree that the defendant’s judgment is substantially impaired. The consumer price index is to be applied to the amount recoverable for punitive damages.
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