Santa Barbara Judge Thomas Anderle is allowing San Diego real estate agent Edmund Prehoden Jr. to seek punitive damages against the Sandbar restaurant and bar on lower State Street for damages he suffered while falling from a defective aluminum chair in April 2018. According to court documents, Prehoden required two neck surgeries as a result of injuries sustained and lost $125,000 in income he otherwise would have earned.
Prehoden claimed the chairs purchased by Sandbar were defective and that Sandbar managers should have known this by the time his chair collapsed. By then, he alleged, six to eight other customers had experienced similar problems.
Attorneys for the other defendant in the case, Teak Warehouse, argued that Prehoden had failed to make the case that the chair manufacturer had engaged in “despicable conduct,” which they asserted was the necessary threshold for the pursuit of punitive damages.
Judge Anderle disagreed and cited at some length language from Prehoden’s pleading. “This case is a textbook example of companies showing a conscious indifference and disregard for the probable harm to others,” Prehoden’s attorney argued. Sandbar should have removed the chairs once they started “breaking with regularity.” Both the bar and the furniture maker, he argued, “acted recklessly to preserve a profit.” In allowing Prehoden to pursue punitive damages, Anderle ruled, “Such conduct is more reprehensible than simple negligence.”