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Roger, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  BV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell; SuperLawyer rating by Thompson-Reuters
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In a cause of action for Defamation under FL Law, where Punitive

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In a cause of action for Defamation under FL Law, where Punitive Damages are all that might be awarded, is it appropriate in the complaint to specify an amount being sought for Punitive damages, or is this something that is never stated (asked for), but just left to the discretion of the Jury and Court?

Kirk Adams : Hi - my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm a Business litigation attorney. Thanks for your question.
Kirk Adams : Punitive damage are not specified in a complaint.
Kirk Adams : Instead, punitive damages are based on how much is recovered at trial.

Is that the case no matter what the original action is based in, but where punitive was determined by the trier of fact to be appropriate?

Kirk Adams : Currently, the law is that if a party is awarded damages AND the court finds that punitive damages are proper to be considered in the case, the plaintiff would be allowed to seek punitive damages up to 9 times the amount of compensatory damages awarded by the jury.

In a well known, recent 4th DCA ruling, however, the punitive damages was upheld where there was no assignment of compensatory damages.


Lawnwood Medical Ctr. Inc. v. Sadow 43 So. 3d 710 (Fla. 4th DCA 2010)

Kirk Adams : For example, if the trier of fact finds that the plaintiff has been damaged in the amount of $100,000, and IF the judge believes that the case is proper for a punitive damage instruction, the most that could be gained is 9 times that amount - - which would be $900,000.

Is there ever any case where a plaintiff "asks" for a specific amount of punitive damages?


I am referring to the pleadings before trial?

Kirk Adams : I have never seen in my 11 years of practice a party asking for punitive damages in a complaint.
Kirk Adams : to seek a specific dollar amount.

Okay. That's what I wanted to know. I will give you the appropriate rating. I have another question for you though, should I close this out first?

Kirk Adams : Instead, all complaints I have ever seen ask for punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the court.

Is there a way to assign a value for Defamation in a complaint?



Kirk Adams : It is possible if the defamation is related to a business or a person's character - - you could show the business profits or income before the defamation and after, and seek damages for the difference. However, in order for this to be successful, the defamatory comment would have to actually have impacted the person's financial situation.
Kirk Adams : Otherwise, it is really hard to quantify damages.

Thanks. I'll ask a new question.

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