Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

Texas Causes of Action & Affirmative Defenses

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Exemplary Damages: Which causes of action support award of punitive damages?


UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES MAY EXEMPLARY DAMAGES BE AWARDED?

Exemplary damages are "levied against a defendant to punish the defendant for outrageous, malicious, or otherwise morally culpable conduct." Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 41.001(5) (Vernon 2008); Transportation Ins. Co v. Moriel, 879 S.W.2d 10, 16 (Tex. 1994).
 
Unless otherwise provided by statute, exemplary damages may be awarded only if the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the harm with respect to which the claimant seeks recovery of exemplary damages results from (1) fraud; (2) malice; or (3) gross negligence. Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 41.003(a) (Vernon 2008); see also In re Barnes, 369 B.R. 298 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 2007).

Bastida v Aznaran - exemplary damages - definition of malice
Bastida v Aznaran - exemplary damages - malice

STANDARD OF REVIEW FOR EXEMPLARY DAMAGES 

Whenever the standard of proof at trial is elevated, the standard of appellate review must likewise be elevated. S.W. Bell Tel. Co. v. Garza, 164 S.W.3d 607, 627 (Tex. 2004) (citing In re J.F.C., 96 S.W.3d 256, 266 (Tex. 2002)). In reviewing the evidence for legal sufficiency to support a finding that must be proved by clear and convincing evidence, we must look at all the evidence in the light most favorable to the finding to determine whether a reasonable trier of fact could have formed a firm belief or conviction that its finding was true. Diamond Shamrock Ref. Co v. Hall, 168 S.W.3d 164, 170 (Tex. 2005); Garza, 164 S.W.3d at 627. To give appropriate deference to the fact-finder's conclusions and the role of a court conducting a legal sufficiency review, we must assume that the fact-finder resolved any disputed facts in favor of its finding if a reasonable fact-finder could have done so. Hall, 168 S.W.3d at 170.

SOURCE: FIRST COURT OF APPEALS IN HOUSTON - 01-07-00792-CV (9/9/09)  
 
CITED TEXAS SUPREME COURT CASE 

Transportation Ins. Co. v. Moriel, 879 SW 2d 10 - (Tex. 1994)



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