Legal Memorandum: Recovery of Punitive Damages in NY

Issue: Under New York law, when may punitive damages be recovered?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure, Personal Injury & Negligence
Keywords: An award of punitive damages; Recover; Malicious or wanton and reckless
Jurisdiction: New York
Cited Cases: 596 N.Y.S.2d 136; 222 A.D.2d 876; 634 N.Y.S.2d 880; 199 A.D.2d 869
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 05/01/2000

In order to recover an award of punitive damages, it is necessary that the plaintiff prove that the act complained of was either “malicious” or “wanton and reckless.”  N.Y.P.J.I.3d 2:278; Harrell v. Champlain Enter., Inc., 222 A.D.2d 876, 876-877, 634 N.Y.S.2d 880, 881 (3rd Dep’t 1995); Dumesnil v. Proctor & Schwartz, Inc., 199 A.D.2d 869, 870 , 606 N.Y.S.2d 394, 396 (3rd Dep’t 1993).  A party cannot be held vicariously liable for an award of punitive damages against an agent of that party unless there is evidence that the party condoned or participated in the conduct supporting an award of punitive damages.  Kelleher v. F.M.E. Auto Leasing Corp., 192 A.D.2d 581, 596 N.Y.S.2d 136 (2nd Dep’t 1993). 


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