Montana law allows compensatory and future damages for an injured plaintiff. M.C.A. §27-1-202, 203. These include past lost wages, diminished earning capacity, future lost wages, past medical expenses, and future medical expenses. Montana also allows recovery for a plaintiff’s diminished ability to pursue an established course of life. Johnson v. United States, 510 F.Supp. 1039 (D.C. Mont. 1981), Montague v. Hanson, 38 Mont. 376, 99 P. 1063 (1909). Montana law also generally allows plaintiffs to argue for damages on a per diem (amount per day) basis.
1. Punitive Damages
A defendant may be liable for punitive damages if he acted with actual fraud or actual malice. M.C.A. §27-1-221(1). Actual malice is found when the defendant has knowledge of, and proceeds with deliberate indifference to facts that indicate plaintiff is likely to suffer injury. M.C.A. §27-1-221(1). Actual fraud is found when defendant knowingly makes a false statement, or conceals a material fact with the purpose of depriving plaintiff of property or legal rights. M.C.A. §27-1-221(3).
Punitive damages awarded by juries must be reviewed by the judge. M.C.A. 27-1-221(7)(c). The judge has discretion to either increase or decrease the award, and the judge must clearly state his/her rational for exercising such discretion.
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