On September 26, 2014, the Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff held that the complaint filed by Hoai Mi Nguyen and Henry Tang against L.A. Arena Co. and L.A. Arena Funding – otherwise known as the Staples Center – sufficiently stated facts for a recovery of punitive damages against the Staples Center.

Punitive damages is monetary compensation awarded to an injured party that goes beyond that which is necessary to compensate the individual for losses, and are generally intended to punish the wrongdoer. One approach in recovering punitive damages is by showing the defendant’s conduct was “despicable,” in that it subjected a “person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.” C.C.P § 3294.

Scott Wellman and Stuart Miller contended in the complaint that there was a clear showing of conduct giving rise to punitive damages. Specifically: 1) the Staples Center knew the beverage bench in question was dangerous; 2) the Staples Center knew that is was never permitted by the city, but built it anyway; and 3) the Staples Center knew that hundreds of thousands of spectators would use the beverage bench in a dangerous manner, yet, the Staples Center did nothing to prevent such behavior. Based on these facts, the Court held that a reasonable jury could award punitive damages against the Staples Center.

 

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