Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exemplary Damages in Texas: When are they available?


When are exemplary damages properly awarded in a lawsuit?

Generally, exemplary damages may be awarded only if the claimant proves by clear and convincing evidence that the harm at issue results from (1) fraud; (2) malice; or (3) gross negligence. See Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 41.003(a) (Vernon 2008).

Malice is defined in this context as “specific intent by the defendant to cause substantial injury or harm to the claimant.” See id. § 41.001(7) (Vernon 2008). Specific intent means that the actor desires to cause the consequences of his act, or that he believes the consequences are substantially certain to result from it. Reed Tool Co. v. Copelin, 689 S.W.2d 404, 406 (Tex. 1985). Malice may be proven by direct or circumstantial evidence. KPH Consolidation, Inc. v. Romero, 102 S.W.3d 135, 144 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 2003), aff’d, 166 S.W.3d 212 (Tex. 2005).

SOURCE: Houston Court of Appeals - 14-10-00195-CV - 8/16/11

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