This unpublished opinion affirms the grant of nonsuit on a plaintiff’s claim for punitive damages in a defamation case. The opinion contains a paragraph explaining the differences between the definitions of “malice” in punitive damages law versus defamation law:
With respect to “malice,” Shenoi has confused constitutional malice, or
New York Times malice – the malice a public figure plaintiff must plead and prove to
establish liability for defamation – with the malice required for punitive damages. New
York Times malice is actual falsity or reckless disregard of truth or falsity (New York
Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964) 376 U.S. 254, 279-280.) He has also confused punitive
damages malice with the malice necessary to defeat the conditional privilege of Civil
Code section 47, which is ill-will or lack of reasonable grounds for belief in the truth of
the publication. (See Sanborn v. Chronicle Publishing Co. (1976) 18 Cal.3d 406, 413.)
The opinion goes on to explain that the plaintiff identified no clear and convincing evidence to meet the definition of malice for purposes of punitive damages.
Disclosure: Horvitz & Levy represents the defendants in this matter.