What Is ''Corporate Policy'' Definition ?
"Managing agents" are employees who "exercise substantial discretionary authority over decisions that ultimately determine corporate policy." (White v. Ultramar, Inc., supra, 21 Cal. 4th at p. 573.)
"Corporate policy" is not defined by statute, nor in the case law relating to punitive damages. Dictionary definitions of "policy" INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING:
"The general principles by which a government is guided in its management of public affairs." (Black's Law Dict. (7th ed. 1999) p. 1178); "A principle, plan or course of action as pursued by a government, organization, individual etc." (Webster's New World Dict. (3d college ed. 1991) p. 1045.)
The Supreme Court has defined "official policy" (in a case considering municipal liability for a sheriff's torts) as "formal rules or understandings--often but not always committed to writing--that are intended to, and do, establish fixed plans of action to be followed under similar circumstances consistently and over time." (Pembaur v. Cincinnati (1986) 475 U.S. 469, 480-481 106 S. Ct. 1292, 1299, 89 L. Ed. 2d 452.)
By analogy to these definitions, "corporate policy" is the general principles which guide a corporation, or rules intended to be followed consistently over time in corporate operations.
A "managing agent" is one with substantial authority over decisions that set these general principles and rules.
White illustrates this. the court there found that a regional director of eight stores, who supervised 65 employees, and had "most if not all" responsibility for running the eight stores, had sufficient authority over corporate policy to be a "managing agent."
There was a strong inference that a manager with these powers had authority to set corporate policies.