I meant to report on this unpublished decision when it came down in late February, but it fell through the cracks.  Better late than never.

A former Dignity Health pharmacist sued the company for retaliation and wrongful discharge.  A jury awarded her $1 million in compensatory damages and $2.4 million in punitive damages, but the trial court reduced the punitive damages to $1 million. Dignity Health appealed.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal (Third Appellate District) reversed the punitive damages award for lack of substantial evidence.  The court found that, although there was evidence that a Dignity Health employee acted with malice towards the plaintiff, that employee was not a managing agent within the meaning of Civil Code section 3294 because he lacked authority to determine or change corporate policy.  Another Dignity Health employee who actually fired the plaintiff was a managing agent, but there was no evidence that he acted with malice.  Because plaintiff failed to present any evidence of malice on the part of a managing agent, the punitive damages award could not stand.