Question by  shalom (271)

Can you sue for punitive damages in a California Small Claims court?


Answer by  benicio (257)

Yes. See Civil Code Section 3294(a). Punitive damages may be available if you can prove by clear and convincing evidence (something like with 75% certainty) that defendant breached a non-contractual obligation by oppression, fraud, or malice.

Reply by greysquirrel (239):
You can find the legal definitions of oppression, fraud and malice in California Civil Code section 3294.  add a comment

Answer by  patti (29325)

If you request punitive damages, the judge will determine the amount, if he thinks an award is in order. He may use a variety of criteria to calculate the amount.


Answer by  sunny83 (157)

They certainly aren't available for every case based on the facts, but I don't think they're available even for every TYPE of case. They are available for bad faith retention of a security deposit by a landlord (see CCC1950.5(l)).

Reply by apple (447):
CCC1719 says punitive damages are also available for check bouncers.  add a comment

Answer by  patti (29325)

You can ask for punitive damages in addition to the main claim. The judge will determine if punitive damages are in order and determine the amount to be awarded. For example, a judge can rule that the plaintiff must make good on a bounced check, then add three times the check amount as punitive damages.

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