Case Was On Remand From California Supreme Court.
On June 9, 2016, we posted on Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., 63 Cal.4th 363, 368, 371, 377 (2016), which decided that Brandt fees should be added to compensatory damages for purposes of determining the compensatory damages ratio for purposes of adjudging the reasonableness of a punitive damages award.
The Second District, on remand in Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., Case No. B234271 (2d Dist., Div. 3 Nov. 3, 2016) (published), considered the impact of the California Supreme Court’s decision on the punitive damages award. What happened below is that plaintiff was awarded $35,000 in compensatory damages, $12,500 in Brandt fees, and $19 million in punitive damages. The trial court found the punitive damages excessive, fashioning a remittitur based on a 10:1 punitive/compensatory damages ratio such that the punitive damages award should be $350,000 instead. However, the Brandt fees were not included in the calculus, even though the state supreme court subsequently decided they should have been. On remand, the 2/3 DCA panel decided the 10:1 ratio comported with due process such that the judgment was modified to allow for $475,000 in punitive damages ($35,000 compensatory award plus $12,500 Brandt fees equals $47,500, multiplied by 10 to reach $475,000).