In a recent California Court of Appeals case, Banga v. Midas International Corp., Cal. Ct. App. (2014), the court had to decide the issue of how to consider the awarding of damages in a default judgment case following a car accident.
The lawsuit arose out of a situation in which the plaintiff alleged that after she arranged to have her brakes replaced, and after having to return several times to have her brakes adjusted after unusual noises and other problems, she was involved in a car accident that was reportedly due to faulty brakes. As a result of the accident, she also reportedly had to miss work for several days due to personal injuries. The plaintiff then took her car for inspection at a dealership, which reportedly told her that the company had installed defective rear break pads of an incorrect type, which damaged the rear rotor of her vehicle.
The plaintiff’s complaint had four separate legal causes of action. Following several hearings on various matters, the court considered the plaintiff’s testimony and evidence that she supplied, and it issued a default judgment for the plaintiff against Midas in the amount of $6,861.40.
The damages award was equal to the full amount requested for the initial brake repair charges, the subsequent replacement costs as a result of the faulty brake installation, the cost of repairing the car following the car accident, a general damages award, and the plaintiff’s lost wages as a result of the accident. The court also awarded the remaining costs alleged by the plaintiff.
The court of appeals states that the arguments submitted by the plaintiff were mostly based on an incorrect interpretation of a default judgment. It stated that an award of damages after a default judgment will be reversed on appeal if it is not supported by substantial evidence. The plaintiff did not offer any additional evidence in order to “prove up” her damages, other than the evidence that she submitted in obtaining the default judgment, for which the court awarded her damages in the amount of all the receipts and other proof that she submitted.
Furthermore, the court stated that the plaintiff failed to serve the proper notice required under California law in order to seek punitive damages, and on that basis, even though not discussed by the lower court, the awarding of punitive damages should have been denied in this case. This separate notice of intent to seek punitive damages is required and cannot be satisfied by constructive notice via other means. The court also discussed the requirements for establishing the financial worth of a defendant in determining a proper punitive damages award, again noting that the proper procedural steps were purportedly not taken.
The judgment was thus affirmed.
If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to understand your rights so that you can ensure you receive the compensation you deserve. The lawyers at Sharifi Firm, PLC have significant experience in handling car accident cases throughout California. If you have been involved in a car accident, contact us today for a free consultation. We can be reached through this website, or by calling (866) 422-7222.
More Blog Posts:
California Court of Appeals Upholds Judgment in Favor of Driver in San Francisco Pedestrian Accident Case, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 13, 2015
California Court of Appeals Upholds Written Stipulation in Car Accident Case, Southern California Injury Lawyer Blog, published April 8, 2015