Punitive Damages Cases In California

Punitive damages, historically and by definition, are not compensation for loss. Their sole purpose is to punish and deter the wrongful actor. Newport v. Fact Concerts, Inc. (1981) 453 U.S. 247, 266-267 [101 S. Ct. 2748, 2759, 69 L. Ed. 2d 616] ["Punitive damages by definition are not intended to compensate the injured party, but rather to punish the tortfeasor whose wrongful action was intentional or malicious, and to deter him and others from similar extreme conduct"]; PPG Industries, Inc. v. Transamerica Ins. Co. (1999) 20 Cal. 4th 310, 317 [84 Cal. Rptr. 2d 455, 975 P.2d 652]; Mirkin v. Wasserman (1993) 5 Cal. 4th 1082, 1106 [23 Cal. Rptr. 2d 101, 858 P.2d 568] ["Punitive damages can be justified only as a deterrent measure or as retribution"]; Nakamura v. Superior Court (2000) 83 Cal. App. 4th 825, 833 [100 Cal. Rptr. 2d 97], citing Devlin v. Kearny Mesa AMC/Jeep/Renault, Inc. (1984) 155 Cal. App. 3d 381, 387 [202 Cal. Rptr. 204]; Newport v. Fact Concerts, Inc., supra, at pp. 266-267 [101 S. Ct. at p. 2759]. "Imposition of punitive damages is triggered by the conduct and state of mind of the wrongdoer, not by the nature of the loss suffered by the plaintiff." (Nakamura v. Superior Court, supra, at p. 835.) The Court has recognized the disfavored nature of punitive damage awards; they create the "anomaly of excessive compensation and are therefore not favored in the law." (Dumas v. Stocker (1989) 213 Cal. App. 3d 1262, 1266 [262 Cal. Rptr. 311].)