«IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF ALABAMA SOUTHERN DIVISION PENNSYLVANIA NATIONAL MUTUAL ) CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, ...»
Under Alabama law, “[p]unitive damages must be supported by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant consciously or deliberately engaged in oppression, fraud, wantonness, or malice with regard to the plaintiff.” Liberty Nat’l Life Ins. Co. v. Sanders, 792 So.2d 1069, 1078 (Ala. 2000) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). A finder of fact awarding punitive damages must, in fixing the amount, “take into consideration the character and degree of the The Court is well aware that Penn National’s investigation and claims process were ongoing when the Complaint was filed. As such, it is entirely possible that Penn National did not learn of these types of misdeeds, or these elements of loss, until sometime later. Be that as it may, Penn National could have amended the pleadings when these other facts became known to it, so as to provide the requisite notice to Edmonds and to comport with Rule 54(c) and the accompanying case law. Because amendment was never sought, the damages award in this case is necessarily constrained by the specific allegations of the Complaint, which lock plaintiff into particular theories of misappropriation to the exclusion of all others.
-11Case 1:09-cv-00089-WS-B Document 35 Filed 03/03/10 Page 12 of 13 wrong as shown by the evidence in the case, and the necessity of preventing similar wrongs.” Alabama Pattern Jury Instructions - Civil (2nd ed.), § 11.03. Alabama courts have authorized the award of punitive damages in various circumstances of intentional tort, fraud and conversion.8 The clear and convincing evidence before the Court is that Edmonds methodically and systematically abused her position of trust at Centerline to raid its coffers, divert its income stream, and bankroll her personal expenditures for more than five years. This shameless misappropriation of corporate assets was carried out via scores of transactions, and was accompanied by extensive measures to conceal her wrongdoing and keep her victim in the dark.
In short, the admitted allegations of the Complaint show that Edmonds engaged in an extensive campaign of deceit through which she stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from her employer over a prolonged time period, and manipulated corporate accounting to evade detection. Under the circumstances, the Court agrees with plaintiff that an award of punitive damages is reasonable and appropriate in this case to punish the wrongdoer and to deter similar misconduct in the future. Moreover, the Court is of the opinion that the $150,000 award requested by Penn National is justified, in light of the character and degree of the wrong, and the necessity of preventing similar wrongs. Accordingly, upon consideration of all of the foregoing, the Court will impose an award of punitive damages against defendant in the sum of $150,000.00.
For all of the foregoing reasons, plaintiff’s Motion for Default Judgment (doc. 33) is granted in part, and denied part. A default judgment will be entered in favor of plaintiff, See, e.g., Industrial Technologies, Inc. v. Jacobs Bank, 872 So.2d 819, 826 (Ala.
2003) (“Punitive damages... are justified when the evidence discloses the conversion to have been committed in known violation of law and of owner’s rights, with circumstances of insult, or contumely, or malice.”) (citations omitted); Tillis Trucking Co. v. Moses, 748 So.2d 874, 887 n.12 (Ala. 1999) (“Intentional torts ordinarily carry punitive damages, if the jury chooses to award them.”); Griggs v. Finley, 565 So.2d 154, 162 (Ala. 1990) (“if the misrepresentation is shown to have been made with knowledge that it is false, then the law permits punitive damages by way of punishment”); Southern States Ford, Inc. v. Proctor, 541 So.2d 1081, 1087 (Ala.
1989) (“Generally speaking, punitive damages are awardable in all intentional tort cases....”) (Hornsby, C.J., concurring); Carnival Cruise Lines, Inc. v. Goodin, 535 So.2d 98, 101 (Ala.
1988) (“If the evidence establishes an intent to defraud or deceive, the law permits the imposition of punitive damages.”).
-12Case 1:09-cv-00089-WS-B Document 35 Filed 03/03/10 Page 13 of 13 Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company, and against defendant, Brandy Edmonds, in the total amount of $405,285.90, representing compensatory damages to reimburse Penn National for its loss (and for the subrogated loss of Centerline that predated Penn National’s coverage obligations) and punitive damages to punish and deter defendant’s intentional wrongs.
A separate default judgment will enter.
DONE and ORDERED this 3rd day of March, 2010.