Court of Appeal reverses compensatory and punitive damages and private attorney general fees in bed bug case

GMSR’s client, the defendant hotel, admitted negligence after plaintiffs were briefly exposed to bed bugs in their hotel room.  The jury returned a verdict awarding substantial compensatory damages and punitive damages on an intentional infliction of emotional distress claim for one plaintiff, and compensatory damages for negligence to her husband and their adult son.  The trial court also awarded private attorney general attorney (PAGA) fees.

On appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed the intentional infliction theory for lack of substantial evidence; reversed the punitive damages award because it was tethered to the intentional infliction claim; and reversed the attorney fees for lack of a proper PAGA basis.  The Court of Appeal also reversed the primary plaintiff’s compensatory damages as based on medical evidence introduced in violation of People v. Sanchez (2016) 63 Cal.4th 665, and reversed her husband’s award as it was intertwined with witnessing his wife’s distress.

McKindra v. Tharaldson Financial Group, Inc. (Nov. 19, 2019, E069896) 2019 WL 6125912 [Fourth District, Division 2] [nonpublished]

California Court of Appeal Opinion – View Document