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ECU FINA 2244 - Punitive Damages Statutes - Chapter 1D

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Chapter 1D.Punitive Damages.§ 1D-1. Purpose of punitive damages.Punitive damages may be awarded, in an appropriate case and subject to the provisions ofthis Chapter, to punish a defendant for egregiously wrongful acts and to deter the defendant andothers from committing similar wrongful acts. (1995, c. 514, s. 1.) § 1D-5. Definitions.As used in this Chapter:(1) "Claimant" means a party, including a plaintiff, counterclaimant,cross-claimant, or third-party plaintiff, seeking recovery of punitive damages.In a claim for relief in which a party seeks recovery of punitive damagesrelated to injury to another person, damage to the property of another person,death of another person, or other harm to another person, "claimant" includesany party seeking recovery of punitive damages.(2) "Compensatory damages" includes nominal damages.(3) "Defendant" means a party, including a counterdefendant, cross-defendant, orthird-party defendant, from whom a claimant seeks relief with respect topunitive damages.(4) "Fraud" does not include constructive fraud unless an element of intent ispresent.(5) "Malice" means a sense of personal ill will toward the claimant that activatedor incited the defendant to perform the act or undertake the conduct thatresulted in harm to the claimant.(6) "Punitive damages" means extracompensatory damages awarded for thepurposes set forth in G.S. 1D-1.(7) "Willful or wanton conduct" means the conscious and intentional disregard ofand indifference to the rights and safety of others, which the defendant knowsor should know is reasonably likely to result in injury, damage, or other harm."Willful or wanton conduct" means more than gross negligence. (1995, c. 514,s. 1.) § 1D-10. Scope of the Chapter.This Chapter applies to every claim for punitive damages, regardless of whether the claim forrelief is based on a statutory or a common-law right of action or based in equity. In an actionsubject to this Chapter, in whole or in part, the provisions of this Chapter prevail over any otherlaw to the contrary. (1995, c. 514, s. 1.) § 1D-15. Standards for recovery of punitive damages.(a) Punitive damages may be awarded only if the claimant proves that the defendant isliable for compensatory damages and that one of the following aggravating factors was presentand was related to the injury for which compensatory damages were awarded:(1) Fraud.(2) Malice.(3) Willful or wanton conduct.(b) The claimant must prove the existence of an aggravating factor by clear andconvincing evidence.(c) Punitive damages shall not be awarded against a person solely on the basis ofvicarious liability for the acts or omissions of another. Punitive damages may be awardedagainst a person only if that person participated in the conduct constituting the aggravating factorgiving rise to the punitive damages, or if, in the case of a corporation, the officers, directors, ormanagers of the corporation participated in or condoned the conduct constituting the aggravatingfactor giving rise to punitive damages.(d) Punitive damages shall not be awarded against a person solely for breach of contract.(1995, c. 514, s. 1.) § 1D-20. Election of extracompensatory remedies.A claimant must elect, prior to judgment, between punitive damages and any other remedypursuant to another statute that provides for multiple damages. (1995, c. 514, s. 1.) § 1D-25. Limitation of amount of recovery.(a) In all actions seeking an award of punitive damages, the trier of fact shall determinethe amount of punitive damages separately from the amount of compensation for all otherdamages.(b) Punitive damages awarded against a defendant shall not exceed three times theamount of compensatory damages or two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000), whicheveris greater. If a trier of fact returns a verdict for punitive damages in excess of the maximumamount specified under this subsection, the trial court shall reduce the award and enter judgmentfor punitive damages in the maximum amount.(c) The provisions of subsection (b) of this section shall not be made known to the trierof fact through any means, including voir dire, the introduction into evidence, argument, orinstructions to the jury. (1995, c. 514, s. 1.) § 1D-26. Driving while impaired; exemption from cap.G.S. 1D-25(b) shall not apply to a claim for punitive damages for injury or harm arising froma defendant's operation of a motor vehicle if the actions of the defendant in operating the motorvehicle would give rise to an offense of driving while impaired under G.S. 20-138.1, 20-138.2, or20-138.5. (1995, c. 514, s. 1.) § 1D-30. Bifurcated trial.Upon the motion of a defendant, the issues of liability for compensatory damages and theamount of compensatory damages, if any, shall be tried separately from the issues of liability forpunitive damages and the amount of punitive damages, if any. Evidence relating solely topunitive damages shall not be admissible until the trier of fact has determined that the defendantis liable for compensatory damages and has determined the amount of compensatory damages.The same trier of fact that tried the issues relating to compensatory damages shall try the issuesrelating to punitive damages. (1995, c. 514, s. 1.) § 1D-35. Punitive damages awards.In determining the amount of punitive damages, if any, to be awarded, the trier of fact:(1) Shall consider the purposes of punitive damages set forth in G.S. 1D-1; and(2) May consider only that evidence that relates to the following:a. The reprehensibility of the defendant's motives and conduct.b. The likelihood, at the relevant time, of serious harm.c. The degree of the defendant's awareness of the probable consequencesof its conduct.d. The duration of the defendant's conduct.e. The actual damages suffered by the claimant.f. Any concealment by the defendant of the facts or consequences of itsconduct.g. The existence and frequency of any similar past conduct by thedefendant.h. Whether the defendant profited from the conduct.i. The defendant's ability to pay punitive damages, as evidenced by


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