Quintero v. Rogers (CA1 11/18/08)

The enjoyment of life ephemeral but punishment is forever.

Quintero was the Personal Representative of a man who was hurt in an auto accident and then, after filing suit for it, died of unrelated causes. Defendant argued that his claim for punitive damages did not survive, under A.R.S. §14-3110. The Court of Appeals held that it did: the statute says “pain and suffering” claims do not survive, punitive damages are not for pain and  suffering, therefore they survive. (There was also a claim for medical expenses, so there were “actual” damages on which to base punitives.)

That punitive damages survive the death of the defendant had already been established, in Haralson v. Fisher Surveying, Inc., 201 Ariz. 1 (2001). Quintero at least makes more sense than Haralson, which allows “punishment” for the sin of being the object of a tortfeasor’s testamentary wishes.

Quintero also tried to keep a general damages claim alive by arguing that hedonic damages were also not “pain and suffering,” and therefore also survive. The Court held, correctly, that hedonic damages are a species of pain and suffering and died with the plaintiff.

(Defendant also argued that punitive damages could not be awarded under these facts: he was driving thirty miles an hour over the speed limit, weaving in and out of traffic,  lost control of his vehicle, and pled guilty to reckless endangerment.  It takes the opinion a surprising amount of space to point out that that’s wrong.)