Law 561 Week 2 Case Analysis

112 F.3d 1052 (1997)
United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

  FACTS:  A Navy Lieutenant Paula Coughlin was attacked by a group of men in a hotel hallway outside several convention-related hospitality suites in the Las Vegas Hilton. After the attack, Coughlin experienced post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological problems related to the attack. Although she remained in the Navy for a couple of years, these psychological problems as well as other problems stemming from the attack hampered her ability to perform her duties. Ultimately, she was compelled to resign from the United States Navy.

  ISSUE:  Was Coughlin’s punitive damages in excess of on the requisite of malice of fact required under Nevada law?   A Hilton enterprise is trying to overturn the lower courts ruling based on previous ruling on the law, not on the current law.

  RULE:  Under Nevada law an action for the breach of an obligation not arising from contract, where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant has been guilty of oppression, fraud or malice, express or implied, the plaintiff, in addition to the compensatory damages, may recover damages for the sake of example and by way of punishing the defendant. Nevada Revised Statutes Sec. 42.005(1) (1996).

  APPLICATION:  The two-justice plurality was unable, however, to convince a third justice to adopt this position. The concurring justice in Craigo agreed with the plurality's result, but disagreed with the plurality's conclusion that Nevada law limited awards of punitive damages to cases in which the evidence showed the defendant harbored a deliberate intention to injure, vex, annoy, or harass. According to the concurrence, malice required a broader definition than the one offered by the plurality, but because the ruling is the most current, it supersedes Hiltons claim.
CONCLUSION:  The verdict and judgment in Coughlin's favor is AFFIRMED. Coughlin may execute...