Judge: Glenn R. Salter, Case: 22-1279643, Date: 2023-05-25 Tentative Ruling

Motion to Strike


The motion of defendant John Dennis Lawrence Cunningham III to strike the punitive damages allegations from the complaint is GRANTED with 20 days leave.


The complaint alleges the defendant voluntarily drank alcohol and continued to the point of intoxication before driving and thus he knew he would be driving while intoxicated.  These general allegations are insufficient to establish a claim for punitive damages.  (See Dawes v. Superior Court (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d 82, 90 [“allegations of intoxication [], without more, do not state a cause of action for punitive damages”]; see also Lackner v. North (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 1188, 1210-1212 [discussing Taylor v. Superior Court (1979) 24 Cal.3d 890, and noting that under amended Civil Code section 3294 the plaintiff must allege facts showing defendant’s conduct was “despicable” and “wilful”].)


In his opposition, the plaintiff suggests there are other facts of incidents that occurred before this accident that are sufficient to establish the requisite elements of a claim for punitive damages.


However, the other incidents were not alleged.  Therefore, they may not be considered for purposes of determining whether a proper claim has been pled.  They may only be used to determine whether leave to amend should be granted.


The court generally grants leave to amend where, as here, this is the first pleading.  Whether those additional facts—if properly pled—are sufficient is a matter for another hearing, not now.


Case Management Conference


On the court’s own motion, the Case Management Conference is CONTINUED to August 31, 2023, at 8:30 am, as the pleadings are not yet set.




The defendant shall give notice.