California Supreme Court Allows Post-Verdict Brandt Fee Award To Be Used In Analyzing Constitutionality of Punitive Damages Award

In Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., 203 Cal.Rptr. 3d 23, 16 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 6028 (June 9, 2016), the California Supreme Court reversed an appellate court decision and held that a post-verdict award of compensatory damages should be included in calculating the proper size of a punitive damages award, even though the jury had not been advised of those damages at the time it reached its verdict.  The decision required the Court to navigate the case law imposing constitutional limits on the size of punitive damages awards and California case law allowing the recovery of attorneys’ fees as compensatory damages in insurance bad faith cases, as originally set forth in Brandt v. Superior Court, 37 Cal.3d 813 (1985).

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