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$750,000.00 Punitive Damage Award Against 2 Doctors

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The case of $750,000.00 Punitive Damage Award against Two Doctors (Taheri v. Khadavi)

California Court of Appeals (2nd Appellate District, Div. 7) affirms a judgement awarding $8 million

in compensatory damages and $750,000.00 in a case involving claims of fraud and breach of fiduciary

duty of two doctors. The defendants did not challenge the amount of the punitive damages as excessive,

but they argued that the Court of Appeal should vacate the award because of the plaintiff's failure to prove the defendant's action of malice, oppression or fraud within the meaning of Civil Code 3294, which states that in an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendants has been guilty of fraud, oppression, or malice, the plaintiff in addition to the actual damages may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant. The court rejected that argument for the reason that the defendants were found guilty of fraud by the jury and punitive damages should be awarded to the plaintiff.

This case in which punitive damages were awarded is unjustified. There is a conflicting opinion and

analysis of which the court assumes that if a plaintiff proves a cause of action for fraud, then punitive damages is defined differently from the sort of fraud, needed for punitive damage could be awarded. To prove the tort of fraud, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant actually has the intention to cause harm in order to obtain punitive damage. Therefore, a defendant who commits fraud with the intent to induce reliance but no intention to cause harm is liable for punitive damages. There is a clear distinction.

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