California Insurance Litigation Blog

California Insurance Litigation Blog

Category Archives: Punitive Damages

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California Court of Appeal Finds That a 10:1 Ratio Between Punitive Damages and Compensatory Damages Awards Satisfies Due Process

Posted in Breach of Contract, Case Updates, Insurance Bad Faith, Punitive Damages
A 10-to-1 ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages awards in an insurance bad faith case passes Constitutional muster.  So says the California Court of Appeal in its decision in Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Insurance Company, __ Cal. App. 4th ___, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 583 (2013).  The decision is significant in that it affirms … Continue Reading

Court Approval is Not Needed to Assert a Punitive Damages Claim Against a Health Care Service Plan

Posted in Case Updates, Health Insurance, Punitive Damages
In a victory for health insurance policy holders over health insurers/health care service plans, in Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc, v. Superior Court (Rahm, et al, Real Parties), 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 138 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Feb. 15, 2012), the Court of Appeals ruled that a plaintiff does not need to obtain approval from … Continue Reading

California Courts Rule Punitive Damages Award of 16 to 1 Ratio Not Unconstitutionally Excessive.

Posted in Punitive Damages
In a somewhat surprising recent decision, the California Court of Appeal upheld a punitive damages award that carried a ratio of more than 16 to 1 based on the compensatory damages awarded by the jury.  The ruling was surprising considering the United States Supreme Courts’ recent holding that “grossly excessive” punitive damages awards offend due … Continue Reading

Insurers Cannot Escape Bad Faith Liability By Relying On In-House Experts And The “Genuine Dispute Doctrine”

Posted in Disability Insurance, ERISA, Insurance Bad Faith, Punitive Damages
Insurers often wrongfully deny policy benefits to their insureds in situations where there may be some uncertainty as to coverage.  Despite an overarching duty to act reasonably and find in favor of coverage in such situations, insurers often will deny coverage and rely on their in-house medical experts’ (i.e., nurses, doctors) analysis and opinions as … Continue Reading

What are the Available Remedies Against an Insurance Company That Has Acted in Bad Faith?

Posted in Attorneys' Fees, ERISA, Insurance Bad Faith, Insurance Questions and Concepts, Punitive Damages
This article will be the second in a series of articles by McKennon Law Group PC addressing and answering basic questions concerning insurance law.  This one addresses: What are the available remedies against an insurance company that has acted unreasonably in handling an insurance claim? The most common causes of action against insurers in the … Continue Reading

Dental Hygienist Wins Large Jury Verdict in Disability Insurance Lawsuit

Posted in Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, News, Punitive Damages
In 1996, Plaintiff Laura Kieffer developed carpal tunnel syndrome and severe cervical pain which forced her to stop working as a dental hygienist. Thereafter, Kieffer started receiving disability payments under an individual disability insurance policy she purchased from Paul Revere Life Insurance Company and its parent company the Unum Group Corporation. Even though she had … Continue Reading

Court Upholds $500 Million Award Against U.S. Life Insurance Co.

Posted in Case Updates, News, Punitive Damages
The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld an arbitration award requiring U.S. Life Insurance Co. to pay reinsurance of more than $500 million to Superior National Insurance Companies, workers’ compensation insurer in liquidation, the California Department of Insurance reported. In a press release, California Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner said that “upholding this award … Continue Reading

California Supreme Court Embraces 1:1 Punitive Damages Ratio

Posted in Case Updates, News, Punitive Damages
The California Supreme Court has embraced the principle suggested by the U.S. Supreme Court that a ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages of one-to-one is the federal constitutional maximum where there is relatively low reprehensibility and the compensatory damages award is substantial.    In Roby v. McKesson Corporation, plaintiff Charlene Roby filed alleged a wrongful … Continue Reading

Court of Appeal Complicates the Analysis of Mental and Nervous Disability Claims

Posted in Case Updates, Disability Insurance, Health Insurance, Insurance Bad Faith, News, Punitive Damages
Bosetti v. The United States Life Ins. Co., 175 Cal. App. 4th 1208 (2009) is an important California Court of Appeal decision that addressed whether a two-year benefits limitation on disabilities due to “mental, nervous or emotional disorder[s]” could serve to limit benefits payable to an insured disabled from depression and anxiety who also complained … Continue Reading