Assault and battery verdict is upheld.
Clarence Russell and Tony Thompson sued Shane and Shawn Novencido for assault and battery. They recovered an award totaling $150,000.00 from Shane, including $50,000.00 in exemplary or "punitive" damages. The Defendant appealed.
The action arose out of a fight that occurred at Fenders Bar and Grill in 2006. Thompson owns Fenders and asked the two brothers to leave when they engaged in a series of verbal exchanges with other customers. As he followed the brothers out the door, he and Russell were sucker-punched in the face, suffering cuts and bruises. Thompson also suffered a fractured orbital wall. The brothers pleaded guilty to assault and battery but contested the subsequent civil verdict against them.
The Defendant argued that the judge's findings of fact in this bench trial were incorrect and did not support his conclusions. The Court of Appeals found two minor errors in the factual findings but concluded that over-all, the findings represented a reasonable evaluation of conflicting testimony and were adequate to support the judgment. Lastly, the Defendants argued that their conduct was not "malicious, reckless or wanton" and therefore exemplary damages were unwarranted: The Court of Appeals agreed with the Trial Court that administering a beating to an elderly gentleman is sufficiently reprehensible conduct to justify an award of punitive damages.