Punitive damages are authorized in California pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code § 3294. In Products Liability claims, punitive damages may be awarded where a plaintiff can prove oppression, fraud or malice. See Hasson v. Ford Motor Co., (1982) 32 Cal. 3d 388, 402. (“In order to justify an award of punitive damages on this basis, the plaintiff must establish that the defendant was aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his conduct, and that he wilfully and deliberately failed to avoid those consequences.”) In the context of punitive damages, California Courts have defined malice to include not only a malicious intention to injury the specific person harmed, but conduct evincing a conscious disregard of the probability that the actor’s conduct will result in injury to others. See Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co., (1981) 119 Cal. App. 3d 757, 808.
Thus, depending on the nature of the defect and injury resulting therefrom, certain facts and circumstances could support a claim for punitive damages in a device defect case. If you or a loved one has been injured due to a defective device, contact one of our defective device attorneys today for a free consultation and case evaluation.