Strategies, Challenges, and Answers

Halfway Tort Reform

Nevada’s scheme for punitive damages was the target of tort reform proponents in 1995.  The reformers were able to make some headway relative to limiting punitive damages.  However, N.R.S. 42.005 creates huge exceptions to these limits in many areas that have proved so lucrative to the Plaintiffs’ bar.

Glass_half_full Under the revisions to the punitive damages law, conventional punitive damages awards are limited to three times the amount of the compensatory damages where compensatory damages exceed $100,000.00.  In cases where the compensatory damages are less than $100,000.00 punitive damages are limited to $300,000.00 total.

However, in cases involving:

a. products liability

b. insurance bad faith

c. housing discrimination

d. toxic torts and

e. defamation.

those defendants are at risk for awards of punitive damages with no statutory restriction whatsoever.  The statute even throws out the statutory definitions of fraud, malice and oppression found in N.R.S. 42.001 and otherwise inserts common law definitions of those terms, often making easier the Plaintiff’s job of qualifying for a punitive damages award.

Nevada’s punitive damages statute specifically provides for a bifurcated process whereby compensatory damages are awarded prior to a determination of punitive damages.  Evidence of financial condition may not be admitted during the compensatory damage phase of the trial.

In the end, cases in which punitive damages are alleged pose a tremendous risk to insurance companies.  For that reason, it’s important that a carrier in a bad faith suit have an attorney who is experienced handling punitive damages claims.  Mills and Associates has significant experience in dealing with matters such as these at trial before the courts in Nevada.  Please call with questions on this or any other issue related to punitive damages.

Mills & Associates Coverage Lawyers 702-240-6060

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