Practice Areas

Impact Litigation

Because we are The Cochran Firm, people know we make a major impact on both law and society. Many of our cases lead to press conferences. Some matters we get involved in lead to changes in the laws. We have a big impact through our work here, and we’re proud of that. Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. was never afraid to make a social and economic impact through the law, fighting for a righteous cause, whether popular opinion was for it or against, when the cause is right, you gotta fight. And if the case is outrageous, often punitive damages follows.

We are not afraid to tell it like it is, and when the facts are outrageous, then we do not simply seek economic justice in fair compensation, but we also seek to punish the wrongdoer and deter them from doing the same harms again in the future. This form of justice, or “damages” is defined as punitive damages. What leads to punitive damages is conduct that is considered so outrageous it is despicable. This is the case when someone intends to harm another, or acts in reckless disregard of the likely result that others will suffer greatly if they continue doing what they’re doing, yet they continue to act in that manner.

In the right case, we’ll seek punitive damages against many different types of defendants under various facts, but examples that fit this right to seek punitive damages would include lawsuits against car companies that knowingly choose to make a vehicle that rolls over easily, and when it does, the roof’s so weak it collapses. Or we’ll seek punitive damages against a place that ignores someone’s elderly parent to the point where they are malnourished, dehydrated, with painful skin breakdowns, yet no one seems to care. Or against an employer who has acted intentionally to cause its employee harm or has engaged in despicable or fraudulent conduct in conscious disregard of an employee’s rights. The case must show this general set of outrageous facts, and we specialize in making sure these things are known about and not hidden, and obtaining justice.

A corporation can be held responsible to pay punitive damages if an officer, director, or managing agent intends to injure a plaintiff or acts despicably with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others or subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship. A corporation can be held responsible to pay punitive damages if they are shown to put people over profits, and this decision is ratified by an officer, director or managing agent of the corporation.

Under California Civil Code section 3294(b), an employer shall not be liable for punitive damages based upon acts of an employee of the employer, unless the employer had advance knowledge of the unfitness of the employee and employed him or her with a conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others or authorized or ratified the wrongful conduct for which the damages are awarded or was personally guilty of oppression, fraud or malice. With respect to a corporate employer, the advance knowledge and conscious disregard, authorization, ratification or act of oppression, fraud, or malice must be on the part of an officer, director or managing agent of the corporation.

“Malice” means conduct which is intended by the defendant to cause injury to the plaintiff or despicable conduct which is carried on by the defendant with a willful and conscious disregard of the rights or safety of others.

“Oppression” means despicable conduct that subjects a person to cruel and unjust hardship in conscious disregard of that person’s rights.

“Fraud” means an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury.